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In This Moment (4/16): Policy Updates in a Changing World

April 16, 2020 | Iish Ryaru

To support pathway success in the months ahead, the Linked Learning Alliance will provide weekly insights on the policy issues that are relevant to the Linked Learning community, which extends across high school, college and industry. Have an additional update that you would like included? E-mail me at Iish@linkedlearning.org.

As the world adjusts to a new normal, policies related to funding, accountability, and other student and family supports continue to evolve. This week’s update draws attention to movement on several key federal and state initiatives that have direct impacts on funding at the local level.

Budget Changes Due to COVID-19

The Newsom administration sent a letter to the Chairs of the state Senate and Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committees on April 10 providing an update on the projected changes to California’s revenues and expenditures in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The letter, authored by the governor's Department of Finance (DOF), clearly recognizes that the “economic disruption” coupled with the drop in the stock market is expected to result in a recession. According to the DOF, impacts of the projected recession are expected to be immediate and may last for several years depending on how quickly local, state, and national economies recover.

While the DOF letter does take into account the positive impacts of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) enacted by Congress, it warns that the cost of the response continues to rise and more federal support will be necessary. The governor, in an April 8 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has requested Congress provide an additional $1 trillion “in direct and flexible relief for states and local governments” to assist in meeting the challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis and response.

Federal Funds Start to Flow

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the availability of $3 billion in education relief funding she called “extraordinarily flexible” for governors to allocate at their discretion to support schools and colleges. California’s portion of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund is expected to be $355 million. The state is allowed to keep 10% of the funds for state level initiatives but must send 90% to the field. The U.S. Department of Education is expected to act soon on the much larger part of the CARES Act, which will provide $1.6 billion for California schools distributed on the basis of Title 1 funding. The two funds together amount to $31 billion in stabilization funds allocated as part of the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116).

After School Guidance from the California Department of Education (CDE)

CDE’s Expanded Learning Division (ELD) issued additional guidance on After School Education and Safety (ASES), 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), and 21st Century High School After School and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETS) programs. The guidance follows a previous Executive Order that increased flexibility for after school programs. While the guidance doesn’t provide much new information, it does confirm that ASES programs may use those funds to serve school-age children of essential workers, regardless of where those children attended school, through June 3, 2020. This includes serving children during regular school hours and confirms that no authority has been provided to California to use 21st CCLC or ASSETS funds to serve school-age children of essential critical infrastructure workers.