Governor Jerry Brown has recently declared a state of emergency in light of the wildfires in Lake, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Riverside, and Shasta counties. Now that school is starting in many local educational agencies (LEAs) throughout the state, the impacts of the wildfires can include declining student enrollment and attendance. Since average daily attendance (ADA) generates the primary source of funding for LEAs, the loss of ADA can have a significant negative impact on the LEA budget.
School districts in declining enrollment have a one-year reprieve from ADA loss by using the greater of current year or prior year ADA. Charter schools do not have that same flexibility and will be impacted in the current school year. The one-year of flexibility for school districts may help to alleviate the ADA loss for 2018-19, but the 2019-20 school year may be severely impacted. LEAs experiencing ADA growth, rather than decline, may also be negatively impacted in the current year.
The state provides a waiver process so that LEAs are not penalized for the ADA losses due to these emergencies. When an LEA is closed or when there is a material decrease in ADA due to an emergency such as wildfires, LEAs should prepare a Form J-13A, Request for Allowance of Attendance Because of Emergency Conditions (reference Education Code Sections 41422 and 46390 et seq., and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 428). School districts and charter schools should file the form with the county office of education (COE); COEs with ADA losses should file the form with the California Department of Education (CDE).
Approval of the waiver allows the LEA to receive credit for the lost ADA for the day(s) of the closures, as well as for the missed instructional time, and/or for a material decrease in student attendance resulting from the emergency. Form J-13A is a multipage form, and not all pages are necessarily required—the instructions provide guidance on which pages need to be completed for your LEA’s situation.
For additional information, see the CDE webpage for Management Advisory 90-01, Form J-13A, and other information regarding this waiver process, here. Note that Form J-13A does not need to be submitted immediately—you can wait until the current situation is over and the overall impact can be assessed.
We at School Services of California, Inc., are monitoring any legislative action that may provide additional relief to LEAs and will provide information as it becomes available. We are saddened at the tremendous loss felt by so many in this and the prior year’s fire seasons.