Bills Expand Excused Absences
Changes affecting school finance continue to be predominantly implemented through the State Budget. However, concerns about student attendance trends prompted several bills expanding excused absences.
California’s compulsory education law requires children aged 6 through 18 to attend school and their parents/legal guardians are responsible to ensure their children attend. A student who is absent from school without a valid excuse, or is tardy by more than 30 minutes, or any combination thereof, for three days in a school year is considered a truant. Current law establishes excused absences, including:
- Medical appointments
- Attending a funeral
- Jury duty
- Illness of the student’s child
- A court appearance
- Observation of a religious holiday or ceremony
- Attendance at an educational conference
- Serving on a precinct board
- Spending time with an immediate family member who is an active duty member of the military
- For other reasons deemed to constitute a valid excuse by a school administrator
When taken together, bills signed (referenced below) by Governor Newsom extend the excused time for religious retreats from half a day to a full day, extend the excused absence for attending a funeral to five days (up from three days), and expand the excuse for a funeral to include a person determined by the student’s parent/guardian to be considered immediate family, and includes accessing grief support or victim services due to the death of an immediate family member or close associate as an additional excused absence.
It is important to note that under current law, all absences, whether excused or unexcused, result in a reduction of overall Average Daily Attendance (ADA).
2022-23 Budget Act Provides Large COLA, Reductions to Block Grants
The 2023-24 Budget Act included a Proposition 98 Guarantee of $108.3 billion, which is roughly $1 billion more than the prior year, but $2 billion less than projected in the 2022 Budget Act. The Guarantee amount was the subject of considerable uncertainty as the budget was coming together, with the Legislature and Administration assuming vastly different figures on local property tax assumptions. Ultimately, the Legislature’s assumptions were adopted in the final budget agreement, which in turn upped the Guarantee by about $2.1 billion compared to the Governor’s number at May Revision. With that higher Prop 98 number, the final budget was able to fully fund an 8.22% COLA to the LCFF and certain categorical programs, and lessen the blow from proposed cuts to two one-time block grants – the Arts, Music and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant and the Learning Recovering Emergency Block Grant.
Major TK-Grade 12 Components of the 2023-24 Budget Act. Some TK-12 highlights of the budget include:
- Large COLA, fully funded – Despite uncertainty that the final budget would fully fund the statutory COLA, the agreement included an 22% adjustment to LCFF and certain categorical programs.
- Less pain than feared from one-time block grant cuts – Total cuts to the Arts, Music, Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant and the Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant totaled $1.4 billion, about $3 billion less than was proposed at the May
- LCFF Equity Multiplier – $300 million for the LCFF Equity Multiplier for school sites with greater than 25% Non-stability rate and prior year socioeconomically disadvantaged pupil rate of greater than 70% to be used on evidence-based student services and
- General Fund support for school facilities – $2 billion state General Fund investment to support the school facilities program while a bond measure is debated in the state
- Prop 28 Funding – $938 million available for arts and music programs in schools (1 percent of the K-12 portion of the Prop 98 funding guarantee).
- Second round of Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Grant Program – $250 million for a second round of the program, which includes a $450,000 minimum grant amount per eligible school
- COE funding – $80 million for county offices of education operating court and community
The Governor signed the following school finance bills
- AB 1503 (Lee) – Pupil attendance: excused absences: religious retreats
This bill extends the excused absence provision for a student to attend a religious retreat from four hours or half a day to one full day.
Chapter 846, Statutes of 2023
- SB 350 (Ashby) – Pupil attendance: excused absences
SB 350 requires a pupil to be excused from school for not more than five days for the purpose of attending the funeral service or grieving the death of the pupil’s immediate family member. The bill also includes as another type of required excused absence an absence for not more than three days to access victim or grief support services, or participate in safety planning as it relates to the death of the pupil’s immediate family member.
Chapter 601, Statutes of 2023
- SB 872 (Min) – Pupil enrollment: class size: report
SB 872 requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to publish an annual report of public school enrollment information in order for the public to easily determine specified information regarding class size for each schoolsite in every school district, county office of education, and charter school.
Chapter 614, Statutes of 2023
- AB 100 (Ting) – Budget Acts of 2021 and 2022
This bill amended the Budget Acts of 2021 and 2022 by amending and adding items of appropriation associated with the 2022-23 mid-year budget package.
Chapter 3, Statutes of 2023
- SB 101 (Skinner) – Budget Act of 2023
This is the main 2023 Budget Act bill that contains most of the appropriations to fund government activity for 2023-24.
Chapter 12, Statutes of 2023
- AB 334 (Rubio, Blanca) – Public contracts: conflicts of interest
AB 334 provides clarity around conflict of interest laws by establishing that an independent contractor, who meets specified requirements, is not a public officer for purposes of being subject to the prohibition on being financially interested in a contract.
Chapter 263, Statutes of 2023
- SB 114 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) – Education finance: education omnibus budget trailer bill
SB 114 is the TK-12 education omnibus trailer bill that includes many TK-12 appropriations and policy changes that accompany the Budget Act of 2023.
Chapter 48, Statutes of 2023
- SB 115 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) – Arts and Music in Schools – Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act: local control and accountability plan electronic template
This bill made several clarifying and substantive amendments to Proposition 28 (2022), that Arts and Music in Schools Act.
Chapter 49, Statutes of 2023
- SB 141 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) – Education finance: education omnibus budget trailer bill
SB 141 is the “clean up” education trailer bill, which includes, among other things, revisions to the Early Education Act, the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, the pupil-to-adult ratio for Transitional Kindergarten, and the number of consecutive days a substitute teacher can remain in one classroom.
Chapter 194, Statutes of 2023
- SB 648 (Dahle) – Education finance: average daily attendance: Mountain Valley Special Education Joint Powers Authority
This bill enables students served by an employee of the Mountain Valley Special Education Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to generate average daily attendance by for their districts of residence by requiring an employee of the JPA who possesses a valid certification document to be deemed “an employee of a school district in the County of Shasta or an employee of the Shasta County Office of Education who possessed a valid certification document, registered as required by law.”
Chapter 623, Statutes of 2023
Capitol Advisors Group has produced a set of comprehensive client briefs detailing new education laws that were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2023. Each brief is organized by subject area and includes an executive summary highlighting major changes we think you should know about. Bills signed by the Governor take effect on January 1, 2024, unless the bill specifically states otherwise.
- Posted by CCIS
- On December 27, 2023