SUMMER BRIDGE FUND
SUMMER BRIDGE FUND
Classified School Employees
SEIU Local 99 education workers fought hard to pass California's Summer Bridge Fund law that provides school workers with a safety net to help them make it through the summer when no work is available. But LAUSD is wrongfully denying many workers access to the program and forcing families to struggle with hunger and eviction during the summer months. We've contacted the District repeatedly to fix this issue. But they refuse to move. It's time to take action.
We fought hard in Sacramento to win the Summer Bridge Fund. Now, as the program begins to roll-out, we've continued to work with the state and we’ve won important updates that expand and improve the summer bridge fund. Updates that go into effect during the 2020-21 school year include a $62,400/year income threshold for eligibility. Any work you do outside of the school district does not affect your eligibility.
Participating school districts have begun to notify members who applied of their eligibility in the Summer Bridge program, also called the CA School Employee Summer Assistance Program. Through this state program, that Local 99 members helped pass, eligible members will be able to set aside funds for the summer starting next school year (2019-20) and receive matching contributions from the state starting in the summer of 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Program
Classified employees who are employed with the school district for 11 months or less, who earn less than $62,400 per your in their school district job, and who do not work the summer session are eligible to participate. 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.
Classified school employees should expect to receive enrollment information and an application form from their employer by January 1 of each year. The completed form is due back to the employer by March 1. A copy of the form is available here. Information on how to return your application is available 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.
The Summer Bridge Fund was created to address the problem of unemployment that many classified school workers face during the summer recess. It is a safety net to help classified employees make it through the summer months when there is no work available. It is not meant to replace summer session work. While the decision to work during the summer session is up to each member, keep in mind that if you accept a summer assignment with the school district, you will earn more than if you contribute to the Summer Bridge Fund.
It is also important to note that if you have a job outside of the school district during the summer, this does not affect your eligibility for the program. Additionally, if you work for a limited time for the school district during the months of June, July, and August as part of your regular school-year assignment (not summer session) you are still eligible to participate in the program.
You may withdraw from the program due to economic or personal hardship. You will need to request that the school district stop withholding contributions from your check and pay you any funds that have been set aside for your summer fund. Keep in mind, however, that if you withdraw from the program, you will not receive any matching funds from the state.
Your contributions to the fund will be matched by the state. Participating employees will be notified by June 1 of each year as to how much they will receive from the state.
Governor Jerry Brown budgeted $50 million dollars for the 2019-20 summer break when he initially approved the program. Governor Gavin Newsom added $36 million to this amount. 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.
Why a Summer Fund?
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 “no more” to this cycle of poverty. Through years of putting forth legislative bills, telling our stories of struggle to state legislators, and raising public awareness of our plight, SEIU Local 99 members led the way to move 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 with $50 million in funding for a summer relief fund matched by the state. The following year, Governor Gavin Newsom included an additional $36 million for the program in the state budget. This state funding established the Classified School Employee Summer Assistance Program, which allows eligible classified school employees to save money during the school year and receive up to a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution from the state during the summer when school work is not available.
We now have the safety net we need and deserve and we won it through union power.