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In This Moment (5/7): Policy Updates in a Changing World

May 7, 2020

This week’s Sacramento policy news highlights the California Department of Education’s (CDE) guidance for districts as they navigate the uncharted waters of LCAP and budget processes during COVID-19, and the work of legislators as they focus their attention on the state budget and a small set of bills related to the COVID-19 crisis.

For those in the Linked Learning community that are invested in social and emotional learning (SEL), we have an update on an opportunity to volunteer for a CDE effort to share SEL best practices and other supports. Finally, read on to learn about the positive result from the grant application for California’s share of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

If you have additional policy updates that would be valuable for the Linked Learning field, please share them with

2020 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Template and Supports Released

In last week’s update, we mentioned that the CDE released LCAP Executive Order (EO) FAQ as a resource to address changes to the 2020-21 budgets and LCAP. The EO requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to adopt a written report that explains to its community changes to program offerings the LEA has made in the COVID-19 emergency and the major impacts of school closures on students and families.

To aid LEAs with this process, CDE released the COVID-19 Operations Written Report Template (a brief summary 300 words or less encouraged). While LEAs are not required to use the template, the report must be adopted by the local governing board or body in conjunction with the adopted annual budget by July 1, 2020. The report does not need County approval, but it must be posted on the homepage of the LEA’s website if one exists. Guidance and requirements for the COVID-19 Operations Written Report can be accessed here.

Finally, on the accountability front, last week the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), held a webinar where CDE staff presented on the changes to the LCAP process and timeline. The CDE has since posted a PowerPoint outlining these changes on their website.

The Legislature Returns

Given the impact of the shutdown on the legislative calendar, there is not enough time to give careful consideration to the normal flow of legislation. The focus for the Legislature will be on a small number of bills and the budget. As a result, the number of education bills, as is the case with bills across all areas, is getting winnowed down very quickly. The May Revision will be released on or before May 14, kicking off one of the most intense and shortened budget processes in state history.

State Assembly

The State Assembly returned to session on Monday and held committee hearings on Tuesday with limited in person contact and strict social distancing rules in place, including temperature checks, limiting elevators to one rider at a time, and options for providing virtual testimony on bills. The Assembly Committee on Education, which hears bills dealing with K-12 education met Wednesday, May 6. Out of the 140 Assembly bills introduced in 2020 and referred to Assembly Education for hearing, the committee heard only 13.

At this time Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell, Chair of the Committee on Education, has no intention of setting an additional hearing this spring or hearing any of those remaining Assembly bills. In an informational hearing held by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance last week, O’Donnell stated that he wanted Assembly Members to “take a step back” when considering whether to pursue bills that they have authored this year, and to focus only on essential bills or legislation related to the COVID-19 crisis. This is truly shaping up to be a year like no other.

State Senate

On Tuesday, the State Senate announced its return to Sacramento next week. They plan to follow a very tight, three-week schedule of committee hearings where only a very small number of bills introduced this year will be heard. Senate Committee hearings will commence next Monday and continue through May 29, with 14 of the Senate’s 22 standing committees holding only one hearing.

The Senate Committee on Education, which hears both K-12 and higher education bills, will hold its only hearing on Tuesday, May 12. With senators limiting the number of bills that they are continuing to move forward this year, policy committees will also be able to limit the number of hearings held. Even Toni Atkins, the President pro Tempore of the Senate, has cut her own bill load to two. The Senate Budget Committee will convene on Monday, May 18 to consider the Governor’s May Revision of the budget, and budget subcommittees will begin their hearings later that week.

Timely opportunity for those passionate about Social and Emotional Learning…

The CDE is recruiting volunteers to participate in a new team to identify and help disseminate best practices to provide SEL supports for students and educators, including practices to support one another during physical distancing. Team members will focus specifically on one of the following subtopics: policy recommendations, resources, or development of SEL competencies.

If you are passionate about supporting SEL, please complete the State Social and Emotional Learning Workgroup Application by 4 p.m. on May 15, 2020. There will be a mandatory all-day virtual meeting on June 4, 2020.

Feds Approve Grant Application

The CDE received approval of its grant application for California’s share of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund as authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. California will be receiving $1,647,306,127, with 90 percent of the funds being allocated to LEAs based on Title I, Part A formulas. The state legislature will need to provide appropriation authority for these dollars to flow through the state which will likely be included as part of the June 15 state budget.