(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) today wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D- San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood) requesting that as part of the 2020-21 Budget Act, the state permanently eliminate its K-14 Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding structure and replace it with a funding structure based upon student enrollment.
Levine’s request follows one of the early collaborative decisions made by the Legislature and Governor Newsom during the COVID-19 pandemic to approve SB 117 this past March, which eliminated the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) school district funding criteria for the remainder of this school year. With most schools in the state closed due to the pandemic, SB 117 has been instrumental in giving schools and teachers across the state the resources required to support student learning while sheltering at home. Public health and educational leaders have indicated that continued disruption of classroom learning due to COVID-19 is likely into the near future.
Earlier this year, Levine introduced AB 2646, which would have eliminated ADA funding and permanently replaced it with student enrollment-based funding. His proposal was in part guided by impacts to students in his district who were displaced by recent wildfires in Sonoma County. His proposal was also guided by a need to innovate what has proven to be an unjust, ineffective, administratively costly and outdated educational funding system.
After the passage of SB 117 earlier this year, Levine was hopeful that the Assembly Education Committee would consider his AB 2646 so that California could begin modernizing its K-14 education funding for the future. Sadly, even with the passage of SB 117 and with a clear nexus between AB 2646 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislation will not be considered this year.
SB 117 isn’t the first time California has suspended ADA funding formulas for local educational agencies. ADA has been suspended due to a range of emergencies including wildfires and floods that devastated communities across the state for the past decade. Fires, floods, pandemics and earthquakes are all reasons that California may need to suspend the ADA funding formula in the future. This reality asks policy makers important questions: Why not eliminate ADA all together and fund our schools based upon student enrollment?
“Schools have fixed costs regardless of the number of students that may be absent on a particular day,” said Assemblymember Levine. “So why do we financially punish a school, a classroom teacher or other classmates because of another student’s absence? There is no doubt that accounting for student attendance during the pandemic is as important as ever. But, withholding school funding is the wrong answer to this test.”
“The current pandemic-caused recession and its impact on upcoming state budgets will force difficult decisions,” continued Levine. “This will include budget cuts that impact public spending in every corner of California. School districts will be particularly impacted. This is why, combined with potential continued school closures due to COVID-19, now is the time to replace ADA funding with enrollment-based funding.”
“As we look forward, we must modernize our education funding and help our schools and students be successful in the face of the greatest challenge of our lifetimes,” Levine concluded. “We know budget cuts are coming, so let us give our students firmer ground. We can’t let them down. The strength of the educational foundation we provide students today will be the muscles that lift us from this crisis.”
A copy of Levine’s letter to Governor Newsom and legislative leaders can be found HERE.