Monday, March 1, 2021

Newsom strikes school reopening deal with California lawmakers - POLITICO

Newsom strikes school reopening deal with California lawmakers
Newsom strikes school reopening deal with California lawmakers

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers struck a deal Sunday that would push school districts to open classrooms to the youngest students by the end of March while stopping short of new requirements regarding vaccines and collective bargaining.

The deal more closely aligns with what the governor originally proposed in December than what Democratic lawmakers detailed in a bill in February. It does not require schools to open but instead offers financial incentives for those that do, according to sources close to the deal who asked not to be named because it had not yet been made public.

The new proposal would offer $2 billion in grants to schools that open transitional kindergarten through second grade by the end of March and bring back at-risk students in all grades. That includes districts in counties that are still in the state's purple tier, with infection rates higher than what teachers unions previously said are too unsafe for reopening.

Under the plan, once counties move into the red tier — with daily case rates below 7 per 100,000 residents — schools eligible for the grant funding must open to all elementary grades, plus at least one grade in middle and high school.

The deal speeds up the clock and more strictly ties the grants to in-person instruction than what the Legislature proposed. If schools do not open by the end of March, they will start to lose a percentage of money for each day they remain closed starting April 1.

Most of California's 6 million public schoolchildren have been out of classrooms for almost a year. The state's deference to local school decision-making, along with union resistance and high winter case rates, have made it difficult for California to bring students back. While a Capitol deal may propel districts toward reopening, local school boards and their labor unions still have final say — and many want CONTINUE READING: Newsom strikes school reopening deal with California lawmakers