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Logjam Could Be Breaking

Federal Education Jobs Fund Bill Finally Advancing to Governorís Desk for Signature

September 9, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell released preliminary calculations last week estimating how much local educational agencies would receive under the federal Education Jobs Fund. Senate Bill (SB) 847, coauthored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, and approved by the Legislature in the last night of session. It authorizes the California Department of Education (CDE) to disburse the funds.

O’Connell, Steinberg and Pérez issued pleas this week, calling on the Governor to sign the legislation before he leaves on a trip abroad.

On Thursday afternoon, the Governor finally “requested” the bill, meaning that he could decide to sign the legislation in the very near future.

If the Governor does sign SB 847, the state will be required by federal law to allocate the funds to school districts within 14 days of enactment.

The long hold on SB 847 (awaiting action by the Governor), coupled with the lack of a state budget, has forced many districts to wait and see how K-12 education fares during the still-unfinished budget negotiations before they decide how to use the Education Jobs funding.

“Districts need to know how much they can expect from the Education Jobs Fund so they can meet their students' educational needs by hiring or protecting jobs for teachers, nurses, counselors, paraeducators, and other important school personnel,” O'Connell said. “As soon as the Governor signs this bill into law, we can start the process of distributing the funds to schools.”

The CDE has posted the preliminary calculations for the amounts local educational agencies are entitled to receive based on the state's revenue-limit formulas at Education Jobs Fund - Categorical Programs.

A revenue limit is defined as the funds a school district or charter school may receive per pupil in average daily attendance, which is the total number of days of student attendance divided by the total number of days in the regular school year.

SB 847 provides the CDE with the authority to allocate $1.2 billion from the federal Education Jobs Fund signed into law last month by President Barack Obama. The funding is designed to save jobs in California schools by retaining, recalling, or rehiring former employees and to hire new employees to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational services. Districts that shortened their school year can also use the funds to add back days to the school year calendar. Funds may not be used for general administrative expenses. Under the federal legislation, states may not use the funds directly or indirectly to:

  1. Establish, restore, or supplement a rainy day fund;
  2. Supplant state funds to establish, restore, or supplement a rainy day fund;
  3. Reduce or retire state debt; or
  4. Supplant state funds to reduce or retire state debt.

Once the Governor signs the bill, CDE will work with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research and the State Controller's Office to distribute the apportionment funding to local educational agencies throughout California.

Source:  California Department of Education