Classified employees should take special note of Assembly Bill 1808, an omnibus education trailer bill. Along with dozens of other provisions, AB 1808 increased the state budget for staff training and other classified programs by $100 million.

Half the increase was earmarked for professional training, including $45 million for K-12 districts and $5 million for community college districts. The other $50 million will go into a Summer Assistance Fund for staff who earn less than $49,920 per year.

The summer assistance program has only been funded for the 2019-20 school year, but may continue in future years. Classified staff may be eligible for summer assistance if their school district opts into the program before the end of 2019, they work less than 12 months per year, and have been employed by the district for at least a year.

The Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, AFT Local 6192, hopes to take advantage of this opportunity, according to local President Linnette Robinson.

As an alternative to filing for unemployment insurance over the summer, Berkeley schools will repay classified employees who withhold up to 10 percent of their monthly salary during the year. The district will even match the amount employees set aside until the $50 million fund runs out.

Robinson also recently signed a letter with county and district officials in support of public education.