Proposed bill would give schools lost revenue during wildfire shutoffs

Smoke from the Kincade Fire in Geyserville, Calif. billows around a PG&E pole. Oct. 24, 2019

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation Thursday that would reimburse schools for revenue lost during wildfire-related power shutoffs.

"My bill will ensure school districts are made financially whole while providing a mechanism to offer makeup days for students who have missed classroom time," Dodd said.

The state's school funding is based on the average daily student attendance. Under the current law, schools forced to close because of a public safety power shutoff could lose part of their expected funding allocation.

Senate Bill 884, co-authored by state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, authorizes the state to backfill the average daily attendance money. The bill also authorizes school districts to receive money for makeup days offered at the end of the school year if the power shutoffs or other disasters force significant closures during the year.  

The Sonoma County Office of Education is sponsoring the bill. 

Sonoma County Schools Superintendent Steve Herrington said, "Over the past three years, the 40 school districts in Sonoma County have collectively lost over 300 days of student instruction due to two catastrophic fires, a flood and multiple PG&E power shutoffs. This proposed legislation provides school districts the option of recapturing some of the lost instruction."