There are a number of laws in California to take effect that will affect schools in 2020 while the future of Porterville Unified School District’s elementary schools will be greatly decided by two bond measures in March.
One of the bond measures is the largest in state history at the state level while the other is a local bond measure approved by the Porterville Unified School District board.
The PUSD board approved to place a $33.4 million bond measure on the ballot in March for the district’s voters to consider. The board measure will need 55 percent approval. The district has stated a community household survey has found 55 percent or more support for elementary school improvements but whether 55 percent will actually vote to approve the bond is another matter.
The bond would be used to modernize the district’s elementary and middle schools and to make them ADA compliant. District officials have stated all of the district’s elementary and middle schools would benefit from the bond.
The State Legislature also approved the largest bond in state history, a $15 billion bond measure. But instead of going to new school construction, the bond will be used for the modernization of decaying schools, so the PUSD bond falls in line with that measure.
PUSD hopes if the state bond passes on March 3 that it will receive matching funds from that bond. So voters in the district will have two bond measures — the state and local bond measures – to consider.
K-12 schools, community colleges and four-year colleges would benefit from the state bond, with $9 billion going to K-12 schools.
Other new laws include overhauling the state’s charter schools. As a result of the new law, all charter school teachers will have to hold a state teaching credential.
Local school boards will also be given more authority to deny charters for future proposed charter schools, although those seeking those charters can still appeal at the state and county level.
And the new law also makes it easier for high-performing charter schools to stay open. Charter schools will also have to operate within the boundaries of their authorizing districts.
Another new law will also phase in mandatory later start times for middle and high school students. The law that will require high schools to start their day no earlier than 8:30 a.m. And middle schools to start their day no earlier than 8 will be phased in over three years. Rural schools will receive an exemption, but it’s unclear what exactly defines a rural school.
Another law requires the State Department of Education by July to create resources for schools to use to train staff how to support LGBTQ students. Teachers wouldn’t be required to go through training, but schools would be “encouraged” to train teachers every two years.
Another law is designed to provide stability to the state’s 100,000 migrant students. Migrant students will be allowed to continue to attend a school they had been attending even if their families move during the school year.
A law for the State Board of Education to adopt an ethnic studies curriculum has basically been placed on hold. The deadline for the curriculum to be adopted was supposed to be this spring, but state leaders decided more time was needed.
Another law re-emphasizes it’s explicitly illegal for schools to withhold lunch from students because of finances to stop what has been called school-lunch shaming.
And virtually all school districts have addresses the use of smartphones at schools, another law allows local school boards to ban or limit students’ use of smartphones at school except for emergencies or medical reasons.