SUMMER FUND FOR CLASSIFIED SCHOOL EMPLOYEES
For too long, classified school employees across California have endured a cruel cycle of financial hardship. When school is out for summer recess, many of us go without work and without income. How can we move forward when anything we save for our family’s future is lost over the summer?
We’ve argued that when there’s no work to be found, we need a safety net. Yet, we’re barred from accessing state unemployment benefits because we aren’t considered seasonal employees.
So we said “enough is enough.” Our union led the way—through years of putting forth legislative bills, telling our stories, and raising awareness of our plight—to get state legislators and Governor Brown to finally recognize the cruel summer for what it is—a crisis and an injustice that calls for a solution.
In June 2018, Governor Brown signed the 2018-2019 State Budget, which includes $50 million in funding for a summer relief fund, matched by the state.
We now have the safety net we need and deserve and we won it through union power. Learn more about the summer relief fund on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Program
Classified employees who are employed for less than 12 months, this includes 10-month and 11-month employees. You must also have been working with your district for at least one year to participate in the program. Please note charter schools and community colleges cannot participate in the program.
An enrollment form has been released by the California Department of Education and can be filled out and printed here. Every eligible classified employee who wishes to participate in the Summer Fund must complete and return to their district by March 1. For submission information for your employer see this web post. For more details please see our implementation timeline.
This form can be found on the California Department of Education’s website. You can also access it here.
You can have up to 10% of your monthly paycheck withheld during the school year.
Employees can opt to receive money in one lump sum at the beginning of summer recess or have it distributed in two payments over the recess
No, the enactment of the program will not lead to a mandatory withholding on your paycheck in the same way that taxes, like social security and medicare, are currently withheld. You will elect, on the California Department of Education form, the percentage of funds you’d like withheld. You can contribute up to 10% of your monthly paycheck to the Summer Fund.
Think of the Summer Fund as an employer-matched 401k retirement account where you voluntarily contribute to.
As the bill is currently written, yes. But, if you work for the school district during the summer, you will only be able to access the money you have banked. You will not receive matching contributions.
Your contributions to the fund will be matched by the state. Participating employees will be notified June 1, 2019 as to how much they will receive from the state.
The state has budgeted $50 million dollars. If and when the fund is exhausted, we can ask the legislature for additional funding.
The school district or county office of education must share with the CDE their intention to participate in the Summer Fund, the number of classified employees participating, and an estimation of the total amount of funds to be withheld from those employees paychecks.
No. Funds from the state match for classified employees will not be considered compensation for retirement benefits for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Over the past six years, we have introduced bills in Sacramento to change the current law so that school employees could be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits during the summer break. Unfortunately, those bills have not become law. During the process, however, we educated legislators about the problem. Many of them agreed that dedicated school workers should not have to suffer during the summer. Their main concern has been that the state cannot afford the cost of paying benefits out of the current unemployment insurance fund. That is why we’ve come up with a different solution.
The Summer Bridge Fund creates a new fund that school workers and the state will pay into. If this bill becomes law, school workers will have the option to pay a certain amount each month into the fund. In return, the state will provide a matching contribution. Employees will be able to contribute up to the equivalent of 10 days of work. These funds can be used at the end of the school year.
A common misconception is that classified school workers are paying into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, but are denied access to unemployment benefits.
Actually, school workers do not pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund. No money is deducted from their paychecks for this purpose. The reason they don’t pay into the fund is because—unlike other employees that do pay into the fund—school workers are currently excluded from accessing unemployment benefits. SEIU Local 99 members have fought to change that through legislation and influencing the state budget. The Summer Bridge Fund is part of the solution to addressing the summer unemployment issue.
Why are school workers excluded from access? School workers are not considered by the state and school district to be unemployed during the summer recess. This is the reason why school workers, under normal circumstances, are denied when they try to apply for unemployment benefits.
This does not mean school workers are completely ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. There are some ways a school worker could be eligible:
- Permanent layoffs: School districts pay into the state’s School Employees Fund (SEF). This is a voluntary fund managed by the EDD that is used to cover unemployment insurance benefits to school workers in cases of permanent layoffs. Note that a school district’s participation in the SEF has no effect on the pay of school workers.
- Cancelled summer assignment: If a school worker was offered a summer school assignment and that assignment was subsequently cancelled.
- No reasonable assurance: If a school worker does not have reasonable assurance to return to the same or similar position at the end of the recess or did not receive proper notification of reasonable assurance. Learn more about EDD’s guidelines on Reasonable Assurance.
Timeline for Implementation
From when classified employees can begin enrolling to when they will receive the first disbursement of funds, the implementation of the Summer Fund program will occur in phases. Here is a handy timeline of key deadlines.
Your school district will notify you of its intent to participate in the Summer Fund for 2019-2020. Once your district decides to participate they CANNOT reverse this decision.
You will notify your district, in writing, if you want to participate in the Summer Fund in 2019-2020. This form will be provided by the California Department of Education (CDE). You must deliver your completed form to your district by March 1. This form will include the amount you’d like withheld from your monthly pay (up to the 10% limit) and how you would like to receive your payment. Find out if you are eligible in our FAQs.
Districts must notify the California Department of Education of their participation in the Summer Fund.
The California Department of Education will notify participating districts the estimated amount of state funds you can expect to receive. If there are more participants than there are funds, the State Department of Education will notify participating districts the prorated amount of state funds you can expect to receive.
Your district will let you know the estimated state match funds you can expect to receive.
July 1 (2020)
On July 1, 2020, your district will request payment, the funds deposited by participating classified staff in each district, from the State Department of Education.
July 30 (2020)
Within 30 days of a districts’ request, the State Department of Education will distribute the necessary funds to the district and these will then be distributed to participating employees.
Given this timeline, we expect to see payments to classified education workers around August 2020. If anything changes, we will update you and our page as soon as possible.
After years of hard work—including hundreds of members going to Sacramento year-after-year to talk to legislators, and electing politicians who support classified employees—the Summer Bridge Fund is finally a reality. To be able to participate in the program, you must apply before March 1, 2019. Here’s what you need to do and what happens after you submit your application.
Our Summer Bridge Fund is now a reality! Governor Brown has signed a new California budget that includes $50 million dollars for a state matched fund for school workers.
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