The 2020-21 State Budget Act provides $4.4 billion in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to local educational agencies to expend by December 30, 2020, and requires LEAs to report unspent funds within 30 days of the deadline in order allow the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to recall unspent funds. The state also clarified and provided greater flexibility on the use of learning loss mitigation funds for necessary COVID-19 related expenses through the adoption of SB 820 (Chapter 110, Statutes of 2020).

On October 7, 2020, the California Department of Education (CDE) closed the collection period for local educational agencies to report expenditure data for the CRF cycle 2 reporting as required by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The cycle 2 reporting indicated that about 50 percent of these funds have been expended, which has raised concerns at the state level since unspent funds will revert back to the federal government. It is recognized that the various components and reporting requirements may have attributed to a potential lag in information, but it is critical to ensure LEAs have the technical assistance to fully expend these limited dollars during these uncertain times.

CDE has reopened the cycle 2 reporting window until October 31, 2020 and requests that LEAs prioritize expending these funds as soon as possible. The reporting time frame for the cycle 2 reporting that has been reopened is July 1 – September 30. However, as part of the cycle 2 reporting LEAs are able to add additional expenditures or otherwise adjust what was reported in the cycle 1 report (March 1 – June 30). The actual cycle 1 report will not reopen, and as such any necessary adjustments should be reflected in the cycle 2 report just as if they were cycle 2 expenditures.

The next CRF reporting cycle for the period of October 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020 will close on January 6, 2021. If an LEA requires technical assistance, please contact CDE at

Save the Date: CASBO will co-host with CDE a federal funding webinar on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m..

Purpose of Funds

SB 820 details that funds may be used to support individuals served by local educational agencies, including, but not limited to those enrolled in a childcare program, California state preschool program, Kindergarten, any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, and adult education programs. Funds shall be expended for any of the following purposes:

State Compliance

By September 30, 2020, eligible local educational agencies were required to certify that the funding received will be used in full compliance with federal law and adopt at a public board meeting, a 2020-21 learning continuity and attendance plan. However, the state did not preclude an LEA from receiving or expending funds before the adoption of its learning continuity and attendance plan.

Every eligible LEA shall maintain a file of all receipts and records of expenditures for a period of no less than three years, or, where an audit has been requested, until an audit is resolved, whichever is longer. If the State Superintendent requests receipts and records, LEAs shall make that available and note that the State Superintendent is authorized to recoup any federal disallowances of funds allocated to LEAs, as applicable.

For the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), eligible LEAs shall report on or before August 31, 2021, the balance of any unexpended funds received from this fund source to the State Superintendent. Funds that are not expended by September 30, 2022, shall be reported to the State Superintendent within 30 days, and the State Superintendent shall initiate collection proceedings.

CRF Reporting of Obligation & Expended Amount

LEAs are required to report the amount of funds that they have obligated as of the last day of the reporting period (even if the funds were obligated during a previous reporting period) and the amount of funds expended during the current reporting period. Funds expended should not be included as an obligation, as that creates double counting.

According to the California Department of Finance, obligations are commitments of funds outlined in an agreement such as a contract, grant, purchase order, or requisition related to a good or service. This would not include salaries and wages of staff employed by the entity, nor would it include an approved plan for expenditures, such as a budget approved by a school board. The U.S. Treasury Office of the Inspector General defines an expenditure as the approval for payment of a good or service that has been received, such as an approved invoice or claim schedule. For more detailed information, visit the website links listed below.


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