LANCASTER — Of the more than 700 bills waiting for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, Assembly Bill 438 could throw a monkey wrench into the budgeting process for the more 1,000 school districts and community college districts in California, Dennis Meyers of the California School Boards Association cautioned members of the Antelope Valley School Boards Association, Tuesday night.
Meyers, Naomi Eason, assistant executive director of Member Services, and Kristin Lindgren, deputy general counsel for the CSBA, were the featured speakers for the AV School Boards Association’s 11th annual Education Summit hosted by Antelope Valley Union High School District at Lancaster High School. AVSBA members could also participate virtually via Zoom.
AB 438, sponsored by the California School Employees Association, would eliminate the current 60-day layoff notice for classified employees and establish a March 15 deadline — the same as for teachers — to notify employees of potential layoffs.
That means school Board members would have to be 100% certain of their budget by March 15, or about three months before the Legislature adopts the budget and about four months before an education trailer bill is adopted, Meyers said.
“We are fearful of what that means now for local employees,” Meyers said. “You’ll have to be very conservative and not over-estimate and who’s going to pay the price.”
The CSBA asked Gov. Newsom to veto the bill.
Lindgren provided a COVID-19 legal update for members based on the California Department of Public Health orders and guidelines. For examples, masks are required indoors for students and staff working with children with exceptions for medical conditions with a doctor’s note.
“We are promised an update by Nov. 1 as to whether universal masking mandate will continue,” Lindgren said.
Masks are required for all indoor sports unless there is a choking hazard. Exemptions would be swimming, diving, gymnastics and wrestling, she said, adding that if a mask cannot be worn the activity needs to be done outdoors or with some other protection.
Newsom signed Assembly Bill/Senate Bill 167 on Sept. 23. The bill has “cleanup” language for Assembly Bill 130, a budget trailer bill that requires independent study for the 2021-22 school year, where the return to school would risk student health and for COVID-19 quarantine.
Schools should offer independent study to students who cannot or will not wear a mask. If the student is not completing their assignments, meeting attendance standards or progressing academically, then they must return to campus.
As of Oct. 15, all workers serving students in public schools must show, and allows districts to track, vaccination status or be tested weekly.
“We do not think that following this law is bargainable,” Lindgren said. “It’s a mandate; it’s something that has to be done; it’s an order.”
Under Assembly Bill 361, as of Friday, new rules during a state of emergency waive the existing teleconferencing meeting rules in the Brown Act that include posting an agenda and allowing the public access for members that teleconference in.
The public must be able to address the Board in “real time” during the public comment period and before or during when an item is under consideration by the Board.
Boards that meet in person without a member teleconferencing in have no legal obligation to stream the meeting or to provide remote access to the public. Boards that conduct “hybrid” meetings, where the Board meets in-person and a member attends by teleconference, must provide public access to either through the existing rules in the Brown Act or via the new rules in AB 361.