In its only scheduled committee hearing to consider Assembly K–12 education bills for the year (see “Assembly Returns with Abbreviated Policy Schedule” in the April 2020 Fiscal Report), the Assembly Education Committee unanimously approved Assembly Bill (AB) 1835 (Weber, D-San Diego), which was introduced in direct response to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) audit report released by the State Auditor’s Office last November (see “State Auditor’s Office Releases Results of LCFF Audit” in the November 2019 Fiscal Report).
AB 1835 would require local educational agencies (LEAs) to identify their unspent supplemental and concentration funds by annually reconciling and reporting to the California Department of Education their estimated and actual spending of those dollars. LEAs would then be required to use those unspent supplemental and concentration dollars on services for the unduplicated pupils who generate those funds in subsequent years. This means that any unspent supplemental and concentration dollars would no longer carry over into an LEA’s general fund and would instead need to be used on services for the LEA’s unduplicated pupils in succeeding years.
The author and those who support the bill argue that this measure will safeguard the supplemental and concentration funding for the students who generate those dollars. Additionally, Assemblymember Shirley Weber contends that the COVID-19 pandemic increases the need for the bill as the state’s most vulnerable student populations are facing a learning loss that could further exacerbate the achievement gap. Some of the key organizations that support the bill include Children Now, Education Trust-West, the California Charter Schools Association, the California School Boards Association, and the California State PTA.
Those in opposition to the bill expressed that they likely wouldn’t have opposed the measure under normal circumstances, but argued that the current economic environment caused by COVID-19 means that LEAs need maximum flexibility to ensure they can serve their students and staff during this difficult time. Those who testified in opposition include the California Association of School Business Officials, Riverside County Office of Education, and the California School Funding Coalition.
The committee did not ask any questions of the author or provide any comments about the bill before voting to send it to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Because COVID-19 has forced the Legislature to forgo its original legislative deadlines, we do not know when the Assembly Appropriations Committee will take up measures sent to them by the policy committees, but the condensed legislative calendar is something that both houses will continually have to address in order to meet constitutional deadlines that cannot be waived by the Legislature.
In addition to AB 1835, the agenda included thirteen other measures, nine of which were placed on the consent calendar. With the exception of AB 2668 (Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton), which was pulled from the agenda before the start of the hearing, all of the other bills were approved by the committee and will either go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (if the bill has fiscal implications) or straight to the Assembly floor for consideration.
As stated previously, today’s Assembly Education Committee hearing is the only policy committee hearing scheduled to take place to consider Assembly K–12 education bills for the year. The Senate Education Committee will hold their only policy hearing on Senate education bills next Tuesday, May 12. We will continue to provide updates and analysis of the education bills that make their way through the legislative process.