Budget deal provides full funding for public schools

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Some of you may have already seen that a budget deal has been announced in Sacramento, but I wanted to share with you the details that will most affect our members. The deal, as agreed upon by legislative leaders and the governor's office, provides full funding for our K-12 districts, county offices of education and community colleges.

This is very good news and means that your districts and colleges will receive the same level of state funding next school year as they did for the year that just ended.

The budget deal also includes what is called "legislative intent language" that states that no district, no county office of education, no joint powers authority and no college should lay off any of their classified staff for financial reasons. While this language does not carry the full weight of law, it does send a clear directive to administrators that the legislature intends state funding to be used to keep all existing classified staff fully employed.

The budget deal also includes language that prohibits layoffs and releases for permanent and probationary employees in three sets of classifications: nutrition, transportation and custodial.

With this decision, for the first time ever in California some classified staff will enjoy the same layoff protections that teachers enjoy.

Please know that while this is a victory, we had advocated for strict protections for all our members. From the beginning of this budget cycle, our dedicated Governmental Relations team in Sacramento fought to protect all classifications and kept fighting for all our members up until the moment a budget deal was made. We did this not only to protect your jobs but because we all know that for schools to reopen safely and effectively during this pandemic we will need every classified employee.

Ultimately, the legislative leaders, who championed full protection for all classified employees, had to compromise to reach common ground with the governor's office. The parties agreed to language that provides a clear message that all classified staff should be retained, and these three classifications, which are typically the most vulnerable folks, must be protected. The decision to protect only these three classifications was theirs, not ours. CSEA fought for protecting every classification to the very end.

Even though we didn't get everything we wanted, we should celebrate that we were able to achieve historic protections beyond the 60-day layoff notice, greater than classified employees have ever received. This is an important precedent for future economic downturns and demonstrates that classified employees deserve the same protections as our certificated counterparts.

That said, the legislative intent language is a powerful tool we can use when districts and colleges attempt to make cuts on the backs of any of our members. In the coming weeks and months, it will be critical for us to help districts and colleges understand that the intent language is a directive from the Legislature that all classified staff should remain employed for the entire 2020/2021 school year.

I want to send a huge thank you to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who made protecting classified employees his top priority for the budget. Without his leadership, and the leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, we likely wouldn't have received any protections at all.

I also want to thank our certificated colleagues and their unions, who boldly lobbied for their classified workers to have the same layoff protections as teachers do. What a wonderful example of how California's education labor community unites and fights for what's best for California students.

My brothers and sisters, I hope you all understand how much your union works every day to protect you so you can do your best to help your students learn, grow and succeed. We should all be proud because WE achieved this.

We will continue to protect and defend you from the school board room to the state capitol and everywhere in between. Please stay safe, look out for one another and remember: Our unity gives us strength to achieve great things for each other and for the students we serve.

In Solidarity,

Ben Valdepeña

Association President