Q. I am glad to hear that the Learning Loss Mitigation funds have some additional flexibility, but one thing is unclear: will the use of the Coronavirus Relief Fund for learning loss be extended?
A. While some of the spending timelines were very clearly extended through Senate Bill (SB) 820 (Chapter 110/2020), the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars are less certain (see “COVID-19 Resources for LEAs”). Here’s a review of the timelines that have clearly changed with SB 820:
- The statutory timeline for the use of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds apportioned to eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) based on students with disabilities ($355 million) was updated to reflect March 13, 2020, to September 30, 2022—this is a full-year extension that aligns with the California Department of Education’s published timeline for expenditure
- Proposition 98 funds apportioned based on Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) allocations shall be used from March 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021—this is a half-year extension
SB 820 did not directly change the timeline for the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars—which provides $2.8 billion based on Supplemental and Concentration Grant funding, $1.1 billion based on students with disabilities, and $440 million for learning loss based on the LCFF—and currently must be used from March 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020. The new caveat, however, is that the use of these funds can be changed if “otherwise provided in federal law.”
While considered in various versions of the next round of COVID-19 relief packages, the current political climate and the short remainder of the Congressional calendar does not lend itself towards resolution before the end of the calendar year and the current timeline to expend funds. It is possible that legislation to continue to fund the federal government by “continuing resolution” may include such an extension, but it is more likely that a “clean” continuing resolution will not include language deemed unessential to keep the lights on for the federal government past September 30, 2020.
In short, LEAs should plan to use these funds according to SB 820 timelines and not plan on a timeline extension from the federal government.