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Complex money dispute involves funding for schools, new Napa jail

“Excess ERAF” are fightin’ words – Napa County is spending $51 million from the arcane funding source on a new jail, while the state has tried to wrest at least some of these dollars to help pay for schools.

Napa County and four other Bay Area counties will get to keep most of the contested money from past years in a legislative deal, money that CalMatters columnist Dan Walters recently called “a windfall.” His column appears in the Napa Valley Register.

Meanwhile, the five counties aren’t conceding points made in a March state Legislative Analyst’s Office report. That report sparked controversy by saying the counties are filling local coffers with money that should be going to state schools.

“The counties strongly disagree with the report,” said a May letter to the state from the counties signed by their financial officers, including Napa County Auditor-Controller Tracy Schulze.

Excess ERAF – Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds – sounds like a bureaucratic mouthful. But for the five counties, this is real money, with Napa County expecting as much as $24 million this coming fiscal year.

To be clear, the state didn’t insinuate that Napa County is diverting money from the Napa Valley Unified School District and other local schools to build a jail. Rather, the report said the financial moves by the five counties affect funding for the California school system overall.

State Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek wrote that Napa, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are miscalculating how much excess ERAF they can claim.

Those miscalculations total more than $350 million annually in property taxes.

The report didn’t break down Napa County’s share of that $350 million. County Treasurer-Tax Collector Bob Minahen said it would be $4 million — if everything in Petek’s report is correct, which he disputed.

Joshua Schultz, deputy superintendent of the Napa County Office of Education, agreed with county officials that local schools aren’t out $4 million per year.

“If the county keeps more ERAF, the state has to give more money to schools,” he said. “If the county gives more ERAF, it doesn’t change our budget at all. It just changes who’s paying the cash.”

So the Napa County Office of Education isn’t jumping into the dispute. Rather, this has been a county-versus-state disagreement and only the latest chapter at that.

Napa County officials have long worried that excess ERAF revenue might someday be redirected by the state. Money that has been like manna from heaven for the planned new jail is no sure thing.

Born in a recessionSchools have to be paid a certain amount of money under a complicated formula locked in place by 1988’s Proposition 98. During the early-1990s recession, the state looked for different ways to meet this minimum funding guarantee as it struggled to balance its budget.

Property tax under the state Constitution must go to agencies in the county from where it is collected. Still, the state wanted to tap into this source to ease its own budget woes.

Thus ERAF was born. The state shifted more property tax money within each county away from the county, cities and special districts into this new schools fund in the county treasury. This additional money going to schools within the county offset revenue schools would otherwise receive from the state, the Petek report said.

That meant the state had to pay less from its own budget to meet to the Proposition 98-required school funding guarantee. Walters in a recent column called the move “a political shell game” created by “some demented genius.”

Napa County’s 1992-93 budget took a $1.3 million hit because of the shift. County leaders fretted as the state moved some of its own budget woes down to counties and cities.

“Anybody at the local level is going to be hit with a monumental problem,” then-County Administrator Jay Hull said in 1992.

That 1992 budget move by the state didn’t go away with better economic times and remains in place today.

If a county has ERAF money left over after paying the various schools-related obligations, local governments get to keep it. This is known as “excess ERAF.” Out of 58 counties, only Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin and Santa Clara receive it.

Napa County more than a decade ago began receiving the money. The total in 2018-19 came to $20.5 million, with $16.9 million going to the county, $2.7 million to the city of Napa, $310,000 to St. Helena, $220,024 to Calistoga, $125,957 to Yountville, $40,294 to American Canyon and the rest to special districts.

Local officials said various factors converge to make Napa County one of only five counties receiving this money. These factors include high property values and the fact that school districts receive money based on attendance.

For example, Minahen said the county has many second homes. These homes come with high property values and no students in the local school system.

As Napa County school enrollment has fallen in recent years and property values have continued rising, excess ERAF revenue has risen. That dynamic coincided with the county’s quest to build a new jail.

Tale of a jail Napa County initially used some of its excess ERAF for general fund operations. Concerned about the source’s reliability, the county in 2015-16 began banking all of it for one-time uses.

Meanwhile, the county wanted to build a new jail to replace the downtown jail. The state’s promised contribution of $23 million was too little. In June 2016, the county asked to voters to pass the Measure Y quarter-cent sales tax to help pay the cost.

Measure Y would have built a $103 million, 256-bed jail. The county would still have had to run a section of the downtown jail to have enough beds, a less than ideal situation. But county officials didn’t think they could successfully ask voters for more money.

As it turned out, the county couldn’t even pass this slimmed-down proposal. Voters rejected Measure Y, with 55% of the votes “no.”

A year later, county supervisors were again talking about building a jail, this one a $128 million, 304-bed version without a local sales tax hike. The county would take out a loan of $50 million.

But excess ERAF revenues kept growing as school district enrollment kept falling and property values kept rising. Excess ERAF collected over a number of years became more and more prominent in the county’s patchwork of jail funding sources.

Napa County in May 2018 contemplated using $34 million from excess ERAF and taking out a $20 million loan. By September 2019, it planned to use $46 million in excess ERAF and no longer needed a loan. By this May, the anticipated ERAF contribution had grown to $51 million.

Supervisor Belia Ramos last year described the county’s excess ERAF gains because of shrinking student enrollment “as bittersweet news as could possibly be.”

Budget showdownThe 2017-18 county grand jury looked at the county’s jail funding plan and had concerns about the reliance on expected excess ERAF. It noted two bills in the state Assembly that year could reduce or eliminate the funding source, leaving a hole in the jail budget.

This year brought the State Legislative Analyst’s report and a state budget battle.

Petek in his report lists three ways that he thinks the five counties are miscalculating excess ERAF to that collective total of $350 million annually. They involve charter schools, redevelopment agencies and minimum state aide.

“In each case, we believe counties are calculating excess ERAF in ways that are contrary to state law and shift too much property tax revenues from schools to other local agencies,” he wrote.

In some years under the Proposition 98 formula, having less ERAF money available affects the minimum guaranteed amount for statewide school funding. In other years, the smaller amount affects how much the state must pay schools from its general fund, he wrote.

Financial officers from the five counties responded with a letter. They said the report is “incomplete” and “misinterprets” statues governing how local property taxes are apportioned.

Though the stakes are high for Napa County, they are even higher for other counties.

For example, the Santa Clara County budget listed $180 million this fiscal year in expected ERAF funds. The recent attempt by the state to change the ERAF calculation method could cost the county $145 million, it said.

Schulze said Napa County has at risk $2.1 million for the redevelopment issue and $2 million for the charter school issue.

But none of the money would go to Napa Valley Unified School District.

All of this culminated in a state budget battle. The state Department of Finance proposed budget trailer bill language that could have retroactively cost the five counties some of their excess ERAF money back to 2018-19. It would have applied civil penalties.

State Legislature representatives from the five counties, including state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, signed a letter opposing the state Department of Finance proposal, saying it would harm counties on the front line of the COVID-19 response.

“In fact, the state Controller has not issued any audit findings to date associated with any of these counties’ ERAF calculations and it is unacceptable to impose civil penalties or require retroactivity in the absence of any such findings,” the letter said.

Dodd on Thursday said neither proposal went forward, getting the five counties past the immediate hump. The state has recommended an ERAF calculation method to be used from this point on.

Dodd said the notion that the five counties intentionally miscalculated their excess ERAF amounts is “misguided.” The Walters column, while not making that charge, left open the possibility.

“It is clearly a very complicated process and one which I believe the counties were doing what they thought was appropriate and in line with past practices,” Dodd said.

Did the counties make excess ERAF miscalculations?

“I think that’s what the state Department of Finance feels is the case,” Dodd said. “Going forward, the counties can once again make their case the best way they can.”

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Local
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Education
Should I quit my job? California parents grapple with education in a pandemic

They worry about who will care for the children and how far their education will slide.

They anxiously await details on what distance learning will actually look like this fall, hopeful but skeptical that there will be more structure and support than a spring of crisis education that left many dissatisfied.

They’re furiously networking on Facebook and Nextdoor in the tens of thousands to form learning pods or arrange childcare. They’ve placed a huge number of calls to local tutoring services in search of help. Some wonder who will watch their child — let alone supervise online classes — while they work essential jobs.

Parents of more than 5.9 million California K-12 children are scrambling to adapt to a new reality without schools to send their children to. Ninety six percent of the state’s total enrollment calls one of the 37 counties currently on the state’s watch list home.

Many students still do not have computers and internet essential for connecting online, and research has increasingly shown the inequitable toll distance learning took on disadvantaged students who lacked opportunities to meaningfully engage in learning.

Many teachers and parents remain worried that physically reopening schools while coronavirus cases surge in most of the state will endanger educators and students and further spread the virus. Schools, which spent weeks devising plans for socially distant classrooms, still lack financial support from the federal government they say they need to safely reopen. Last month, as coronavirus cases continued to rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled new requirements that effectively shut the door for most schools to begin school with in-person instruction until their respective counties stabilize infections and hospitalizations.

Now, millions of working parents like Rebecca Hill in Chico have to wade through constantly evolving scenarios about the school year ahead, weighing the twin stressors of how prolonged campus closures will affect their children’s learning and mental well-being, as well as their own livelihoods.

Hill’s son and daughter will start second grade and kindergarten in less than a month under distance learning after Butte County landed this week on the state’s COVID-19 watch list, which now governs whether local public and private schools can physically reopen for in-person instruction.

But Hill, 38, is also back at work as a code inspector in neighboring Yuba County, where she spends her days scoping out buildings, nuisance calls and illegal marijuana grows in the rural northern county.

Salgu Wissmath, CalMatters 

Kyla Hill, 5, left, and Kaden Hill, 7, right, play in their backyard at their home in Chico on July 23, 2020.

A few weeks ago, Hill and her husband debated whether to opt for morning or afternoon in-person classes under proposed hybrid scheduling — an anxiety-inducing prospect since her husband is immuno-compromised and receives dialysis three days a week. After their district said last week that it would start the year online, the question became whether to enroll full-time in an online school offered by the district, which Hill is leaning toward to minimize chances that her husband will get sick if and when schools do re-open in person. Homeschooling might be an option if they had the time.

One thing is for sure: “We definitely don’t have the ability for me to not work,” said Hill, the family breadwinner.

Unanswered questions

In Los Angeles, Tunette Powell’s three sons will begin the new year under distance learning, but details so far remain sparse three weeks before schools begin instruction, adding stress for how she and her husband, an essential worker, will balance work and co-teaching their kids.

As it did when it initially closed schools in mid-March, L.A. Unified, a massive district of 600,000 students, created a ripple effect across the state when it said July 13 that it would begin the year with full-time distance learning, citing surging cases in the county.

Superintendent Austin Beutner and school leaders across California have told families that distance learning programs will be more rigorous and robust than what schools offered this spring. New statewide standards for distance learning will attempt to hold schools accountable, and students will be graded for their work.

A recent survey by Speak Up, a Los Angeles-based parent advocacy group, found wide disparities in the amount of live instruction Black and Latino students received this spring compared with their white peers. Many were dissatisfied with how little live, or synchronous, instruction their students received, and the group has called on the district to gather input from parents over how to improve distance learning.

Several critical questions remain unanswered for Powell and other parents as the first day of school draws closer.

What will the school day look like? Will there be a consistent start time every day to plan her workday around? How much face time will her kids get with their teachers, and will her 11-year-old receive more live interaction than the weekly, one-hour check-ins from this spring? Will the district distribute newer devices to replace the outdated ones that resulted in several technical headaches last spring? Will there be support for Powell’s kindergartner and other young students not yet adept at using technology to learn?

“I don’t know any of that. I know none of that. It worries me,” said Powell, interim director of UCLA’s Parent Project, a think tank aiming to improve parent engagement in schools.

Powell’s oldest son, the 11-year-old entering sixth grade, is not enthusiastic about continuing distance learning. She’s especially worried about her youngest son, a 5-year-old who will start kindergarten at Baldwin Hills Elementary. Many academics believe younger students should be among the most prioritized groups for getting into physical classrooms once it’s reasonably safe to do so, arguing that elementary students stand the most to lose from being away from classrooms.

“He knows he’s going to a new school,” Powell said, “but I don’t think he’s fully grasped that going to a new school is going to happen in his room, so that’s been difficult.”

DIY education

With schools across the country planning for distance learning starts, parent interest in arranging “learning pods,” in which small groups of students are taught by a tutor or teacher, has grown.

Shannon Mulligan, owner of Marin Tutors, has seen that spontaneous interest firsthand.

“As soon as Gov. Newsom announced schools weren’t going to open, my phone rang every day, all day, for four days in a row,” Mulligan said, with parents inquiring about teachers or tutors willing to participate in a learning pod.

The pod concept has attracted everyone from working class moms holding down full-time jobs looking for tutors to help guide their students during distance learning to a dad looking to secure a teacher for more than 60 hours a month to teach curriculum supplementing what his kids learn online.

Mulligan’s tutoring company, which also works with the county to offer services for foster youth, charges hourly rates that vary depending on educators’ experience. Individual rates for parents go down as students are added to the pod, with a cap of five kids. Once inside a pod, everyone wears masks outside, socially distanced.

Traffic on Mulligan’s website has increased by 75% since Newsom’s July 17 announcement. She said many calls come from parents with incoming kindergartners wary of how the tots will fare learning remotely.

Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters 

Shannon Mulligan, owner of Marin Tutors, runs her business from her San Rafael home on July 23, 2020. She says interest in her company’s services has soared since the governor said most schools will use distance learning to start the school year. 

“So many (parents) said to me when they called, ‘I didn’t want to have this happen, but I’m forced to homeschool now,’” Mulligan said.

Insufficient support

Comprehensive current data on how working parents are adapting to school closures remains elusive. It’s unclear how many parents statewide have been laid off, reduced work hours or quit their jobs and filed for unemployment, since neither the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics or the California Employment Development Department include parental status in monthly job reports. That’s especially true for essential workers, who in California are disproportionately Black and Latino and have experienced higher infection rates, since policy analysts usually rely on longer-term Census surveys to gauge economic status.

“I don’t know if we do know a lot about those families, to be honest,” said Kristin Schumacher, a senior policy analyst at the California Budget & Policy Center, who is also juggling her 6-year-old’s Zoom classes while she works remotely. “The reality is a lot of families are really scrambling under impossible situations to make this work.”

In Santa Cruz County, Erendira Guerrero and her team at Encompass Community Services are trying to help fill the gaps for parents who work at farms, grocery stores, cleaning services and medical offices with remote versions of their Head Start and Papás program for fathers. Wellness check-ins are now done by phone or video chat, and more than 600 care packages have been distributed with diapers, toys and learning aids like puppets, bubbles and songs in English and Spanish.

Still, the pandemic has exposed major holes in systems like unemployment, rent assistance and health care, especially for undocumented families.

“A big part of our program’s work is focused on connecting parents with resources in the community to support their needs,” Guerrero said. “Some of our families are just not as comfortable sharing their needs over the phone or video.”

Existing regulations offer limited protection for working parents considering requesting time off or other alternatives to juggle school and jobs. For companies with 25 or more employees, California workers are guaranteed five days of job protection for emergencies under the Family School Partnership Act. The California Family Rights Act allows workers at companies with 50 or more employees to take 12 weeks off for a new child or family illness. In March, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to extend 12 weeks off for school conflicts, but it only applies to companies with 500 or fewer employees and excludes industries including health care providers.

For many families, that leaves “no great options,” said Katherine Wutchiett, senior staff attorney for San Francisco advocacy group Legal Aid at Work.

“We always recommend talking with your employer, seeing if there’s something that you can work out with them,” Wutchiett said. But outside those limited exceptions, “At the end of the day, if the employer says you have to be at work and they cannot be at work… there isn’t any legal obligation on their employer’s part to continue holding their job.”

Education policy advocate and former teacher Elliot Haspel floated the idea of a “Parent Protection Program,” modeled off forgivable loans made to businesses under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but the prospect of major reform is uncertain. A bill from Santa Barbara Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, S.B. 1383, would expand state requirements for employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid family leave and was approved by the state Senate but still requires sign off in the Assembly. Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s plan for universal childcare, introduced this week, could help, but is several months away at best.

In the meantime, remote schools offer a prime example of the state’s increasingly polarized economy.

Some employees of deep-pocketed companies, especially in the tech industry, are offered company-funded online tools, additional paid time off or flexible schedules. Many essential workers have no recourse. The toll on women’s employment and the gender wage gap, kids’ educational attainment and costs for businesses seeing employees leave the workforce are just the beginning.

“What economists don’t consider often enough is the economic cost of duress,” said Tracey Grose, founding principal of Bay Area business consultancy Next Curve Strategy, who herself helped supervise Zoom classes for the children of two working neighbors in the fall. “When a family is stressed out trying to keep a roof over their heads, they cannot be the best parents they can be.”

Felecia Przybyla, a Sacramento County mom, is trying to answer long-term questions on short deadlines before classes resume. She works remotely for a company out of state while her husband reports to his job with the county, leaving her to juggle her own work calls and her three elementary-age children’s need for instruction and technology help. While she doesn’t want to rely on the state, Przybyla has considered leaving her job to focus on school and file for unemployment with expanded aid available to contractors like her.

So far, she’s held off.

“We’re hoping to buy a house in the next six months, and I need to have a job,” Przybyla said. “I don’t want to give that up, either, and I don’t think I should have to be put in a position to decide between a job that provides for our family and my kids’ schooling.”

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National
AP
Negotiators report progress in COVID-19 aid talks

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers participating in rare weekend talks on a huge coronavirus relief measure reported progress on Saturday, as political pressure mounts to restore a newly expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit and send funding to help schools reopen.

“This was the longest meeting we had and it was more productive than the other meetings,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “We're not close yet, but it was a productive discussion — now each side knows where they’re at."

Schumer spoke alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after meeting for three hours with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The Democratic duo is eager for an expansive agreement, as are President Donald Trump and top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But perhaps one half of Senate Republicans, mostly conservatives and those not facing difficult races this fall, are likely to oppose any deal.

Prior talks yielded little progress. The administration is willing to extend the $600 jobless benefit, at least in the short term, but is balking at other Democratic demands like aid for state and local governments, food stamp increases, and assistance to renters and homeowners.

Pelosi mentioned food aid and funding for voting by mail after the negotiating session was over. She and Schumer appeared more upbeat than they have after earlier meetings.

“We have to get rid of this virus so that we can open our economy, safely open our schools, and to do so in a way that does not give a cut in benefits to American workers," Pelosi said. She pressed her case for additional food aid and funding to facilitate voting by mail this fall as the pandemic rages on.

Mnuchin said restoring the $600 supplemental jobless benefit is critically important to Trump.

“We’re still a long ways apart and I don’t want to suggest that a deal is imminent because it is not," Meadows said afterward. “There are still substantial differences, but we did make good progress.

The additional jobless benefit officially lapsed on Friday, and Democrats have made clear that they will not extend it without securing other relief priorities. Whatever unemployment aid negotiators agree on will be made retroactive — but antiquated state systems are likely to take weeks to restore the benefits.

Republicans in the Senate had been fighting to trim back the $600 benefit, saying it must be slashed so that people don't make more in unemployment than they would if they returned to work. But their resolve weakened as the benefit expired, and Trump abruptly undercut their position by signaling he wants to keep the full $600 for now.

Meanwhile, Mexico now has the third most COVID-19 deaths in the world, behind Brazil and the United States.

Mexican health officials on Friday reported 688 new deaths, pushing the country’s confirmed total to over 46,600. That put Mexico just ahead of the United Kingdom, which has more than 46,100, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Some countries are seeing hopeful signs: China reported a more than 50% drop in newly confirmed cases in a possible indication that its latest major outbreak in the northwestern region of Xinjiang may have run its course.

However, in Hong Kong and elsewhere, infections continue to surge. Hong Kong reported more than 100 new cases as of Saturday among the population of 7.5 million. Officials have reimposed dining restrictions and mask requirements.

Tokyo on Saturday saw its third straight day of record case numbers, the metropolitan government said. Nationwide, Japan's daily count of cases totaled a record 1,579 people Friday, the health ministry said.

And Vietnam, a former success story, is struggling to control an outbreak spreading in its most famous beach resort. A third person died there of coronavirus complications, officials said Saturday, a day after it recorded its first-ever death as it wrestles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days with no local cases.

South Africa on Saturday surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases, representing more than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 countries. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases Saturday night, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths.

Back in the United States, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said Saturday he tested positive for the coronavirus days after he sat close to another member of the panel, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who also tested positive.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a statement that he has the virus but, like Gohmert, has no symptoms. He is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

It's unclear where Grijalva, 72, caught the virus and whether it was from Gohmert, a Republican who has questioned the use of masks and often walked around the Capitol without one. Grijalva went into isolation after Gohmert tested positive on Wednesday, since the two had sat close to each other at a Natural Resources hearing the day before.

“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously," Grijalva said in the statement.


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Entertainment
Showtime at the Expo? Directors of idled Napa fairground ponder hosting drive-in movies, music

One Napa attraction left dormant by the coronavirus may temporarily host another attraction that has gone quiet during the pandemic.

A concept discussed by the Napa Valley Expo board last week would convert a portion of the fairground on Third Street into a drive-in venue for movies and music. The plan stems from the screenings of two films during the spring in a parking lot near the Century Napa Valley cinema, which shut down along with numerous other businesses when California imposed a shelter-at-home order in March in response to COVID-19’s spread.

A drive-in movie series could inject life into an Expo property that has seen most of its activity, including the BottleRock music festival, halted for months. State and county physical distancing rules have put a stop to event rentals and cut off the flow of revenue, costing the fair authority $1.6 million in revenue from events it would have hosted from March to August.

“Hopefully it works out; it would be wonderful to use an underutilized space for the community,” said the board’s vice president, Jeri Hansen. “We want to create a sense of normalcy, but we need to do it in the safest way possible.”

Under the proposal, movies would be projected onto an inflatable backdrop or shown on a large-scale LED panel, which unlike a projection system can produce a clear picture before dusk and allow for earlier screening times, Joe Anderson, former Expo chief executive who is consulting the agency, told board members during their Tuesday meeting.

The group that would organize film showings hosted free screenings earlier this year: “The Sandlot” on May 22 and “Coco” June 19, both at the South Napa Century Center.

Will Marcencia, co-owner of the Napa radio stations KVON-AM and KVYN-FM who helped organize the South Napa screenings, predicted that several more movies could be hosted by the Expo before the rainy winter season if the fair authority approves the plan early enough. (Board members are scheduled to meet again Aug. 25.)

“We’re definitely interested in continuing there,” he said Thursday. “If we can secure sponsors to offset the hard costs, we would be up for more; we would want to do one every Friday. At the end of the day, what we feel is most important is to provide free entertainment to the community.”

Any film showcases or concerts at the Expo would admit fewer carloads than the fairground’s normal capacity in order to maintain social distancing and lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to Marcencia. At the South Napa Century Center, a parking lot with 305 spaces was limited to 150 vehicles for each movie, with slots parceled out through an online drawing.

Movie soundtracks would be delivered through KVYN’S 99.3 FM signal, which the station also supplied for “The Sandlot” and “Coco.” As at the earlier showings, a repair truck crew would be on hand to restart any spectators’ vehicles whose batteries run down from powering audio through a two-hour feature, Marcencia said.

The Expo has not yet received a formal proposal to show films at the fairground, and directors will need to decide whether the traffic and off-premises impacts are manageable and fairground staffing is available before approving such events, according to board president John Dunbar.

Even if spectators take in an event from their cars without mingling with other guests, any public gathering at the Expo would require sign-off from both the state and Napa County’s public health director Dr. Karen Relucio, Anderson said.

The drive-in concept potentially gives the Expo a chance to monitor its outdoor space – where an RV park is currently the only fairground facility open to the public – at a time when all of its exhibition halls are out of service.

Watch Now: Know the basics of social distancing