Monday, March 16, 2020

Day 64

Note: In light of the need for efficiency in communication, ASBA Government Relations will curtail the daily update and instead send only relevant messages regarding the budget and COVID-19 related information for as long as schools are closed. Regular daily updates will resume once business returns to some semblance of normalcy. We will make every effort to make sure you get all necessary information to make decisions for your community without extraneous noise.
Chris & Leigh

 School Closure Updates

In the wake of the announcement by Gov. Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman that all schools in Arizona would close for a period of at least two weeks beginning today, there are many more questions than answers. ASBA remains in communication with ADE and the Governor’s office and has impressed upon them the need for clarity on a number of fronts.

The immediate priority is to secure assurance that schools will be funded at 1.0 ADM regardless of instructional time missed, and that districts will have the authority to pay staff throughout a mandated closure. There seems to be broad agreement on this need and we are working with our education partners to address the specifics. ADE released recommendations moments ago, and they can be reviewed here

There are many questions as to what exactly can be required of employees during an unprecedented closure of this type. More guidance on that should be forthcoming from ADE soon. In the meantime, ASBA does not interpret this to mean that school employees are prohibited from being required to report to work, and district offices may remain open. However, districts should use their best judgement in maintaining the health of their workforce just as any other employer should.

School meals have been a priority as well. ADE has determined that any LEA eligible to participate in the summer food service program may provide meals during closure. USDA has waived the congregate meal requirement so that meals may be taken and consumed offsite. If you believe you are eligible to serve food but have not yet begun doins so, or have other questions, please contact ADE Health and Nutrition Services and review their memorandum on the process to begin serving food.

Other issues yet to be addressed include assessment, accountability, move on when reading, teacher evaluation, and others. We realize that in this time of crisis, there is a seemingly unending stream of questions. We are focusing on the priorities of getting budget certainty for schools and employees, as well as helping to maintain districts’ role in mitigating food insecurity. We will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

ASBA will also be hosting a webinar tomorrow at 2 p.m. along with ADE. Information was sent to ASBA members earlier this afternoon. Due to the capacity of our webinar system, we are limiting this webinar to district leadership, however it will be available on our website after it has been completed for viewing by others interested.


 Legislature Plans to Pass “Skinny” Budget

Legislative leadership seemed to confirm today that their plan is to pass a so-called “skinny” budget, consisting of a baseline spending plan to ensure that all agencies and schools have funding in place for the beginning of FY21, then recess from the capitol until such time as it is deemed safe to return to public business as usual. We do not yet have specifics as to what this plan would contain, but the JLBC’s baseline budget provides a blueprint for continuity funding. The JLBC baseline does include the final installment for teacher pay, but does not include the restoration of disrict additional assistance. Budget bills may be forthcoming in the next day or two. As always, ASBA will provide a comprehensive summary at the time they are released. Both House and Senate are scheduled to return tomorrow around 1 p.m.