Saturday, 24 July 2021

Sen. Dodd’s bill to protect school funding clears committee

Legislation from State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would prevent schools struggling with the coronavirus pandemic from incurring additional financial setbacks caused by wildfire-related power shutoffs from Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities cleared a key committee on Tuesday.

“Right now, the last thing our public schools need is to lose more funding and instructional time because of a public safety power shutoff,” Sen. Dodd said. “Educating our children is a top priority, and this much-needed bill will help make schools whole if they are forced to endure another of PG&E’s power shutoffs.”

California public school funding is based on average daily attendance, reported three times a year by school districts.

Under current law, if schools are forced to close because of a public safety power shutoff, such as those across the North Bay last year, they could lose part of their expected allocation.

Senate Bill 884 changes that, explicitly authorizing the state to backfill average daily attendance money. In addition, it authorizes districts to receive funding for makeup days offered at the end of the regular school year if power shutoffs or other disasters force significant closures during the year.

SB 884 is sponsored by the Sonoma County Office of Education and coauthored by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.

The bill passed the Senate Education committee with overwhelming support. The Senate resumed committee hearings this week with social-distancing protocols.

“It is welcome news, during these challenging times, that SB 884 has cleared its first committee,” said Steve Herrington, superintendent of Sonoma County schools. “Students in Sonoma County have lost months of valuable classroom time over the last three years, the most challenging in my career in education. This bill will provide the funding for hard-hit school communities to begin making up some of this lost time.”

Sen. Bill Dodd represents the Third Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties.

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