NSBA Federal Update: Budget update


Source: National School Boards Association (NSBA)

On February 12, the Trump Administration submitted the fiscal year 2019 budget request to Congress, which proposes a $3.8 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Education, a $2.6 billion decrease for the U.S. Department of Labor, and an $18 billion decrease for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

See www.mnmsba.org/Portals/0/FY2019-BudgetRequestSummary.pdf to view NSBA’s “President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request Summary and Funding Levels for Key Accounts” document for detailed information.

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Gov. Dayton orders flags at half-staff in honor of Florida attack victims


Source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton

In accordance with a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump, Gov. Mark Dayton has directed all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the State of Minnesota.

As directed by the president’s proclamation, flags will be flown at half-staff beginning immediately, until sunset on Monday, February 19, 2018, as a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence in Parkland, Florida.

“Yesterday’s terrible massacre of schoolchildren in Florida should shock and horrify all Minnesotans,” said Gov. Dayton. “I urge all of us to demand, and then work for, an end to this insane violence.”

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, a reprehensible attack on innocent students and faculty occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the victims and their families deserve our honor, respect, and remembrance.

Access President Donald Trump’s proclamation.

Access Gov. Dayton’s proclamation.

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Gov. Dayton orders flags at half-staff on February 14 for Col. Thorsness


Source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton

Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the state of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset, on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, in honor and remembrance of Colonel Leo Thorsness.

Col. Thorsness was born on February 14, 1932, in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. As an active duty fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, he was awarded the United States’ highest distinction for valor in action against an enemy force, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Col. Thorsness passed away on May 2, 2017, at the age of 85. His legacy will be honored for generations to come by everyone inspired by his story of bravery and his dedication to his family, faith, friends, and country.

See https://mn.gov/governor/assets/2018_02_14_FHS_Leo_Thorsness_tcm1055-326557.pdf to view a copy of Gov. Dayton’s proclamation.

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NSBA Federal Update: Congress agrees on spending deal


Source: National School Boards Association

Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations: After heated debate on both the House and Senate floor overnight, Congressional leaders have finally reached a long-sought agreement on topline spending that will pave the way to complete the FY 2018 federal appropriations and budget process. The bipartisan agreement establishes new spending levels for FY2018 and 2019, and temporarily extends federal funding until March 23 to avoid an additional federal government shutdown. Congress must now put together a larger omnibus spending package that will spell out allocation of funds for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies through the remainder of the fiscal year.

Overall, the budget agreement will increase defense and domestic spending by roughly $300 billion for two years. The increase in the mandatory spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will be split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary programs. The agreement also fully repeals the 2011 sequestration caps over the next two years and secures an additional $57 billion in new non-defense spending above the caps. The compromise, however, includes specific spending commitments for disaster relief, including: support for schools serving displaced students ($90 billion); the opioid crisis ($6 billion); the Child Care and Development Block Grant ($5.8 billion); veterans hospitals and clinics ($4 billion); NIH research ($2 billion); infrastructure ($20 billion); and college affordability ($4 billion).

Again, despite the specific investments listed above that are part of the broader compromise, the current budget agreement does not complete the FY 2018 appropriations process or provide additional clarity around funding levels for key education programs. It does, however, provide appropriators with the information they need to complete the broader spending package over the coming weeks. NSBA will provide additional information as the omnibus is negotiated.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Third Higher Education Act Hearing of 2018: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee met on February 6 to consider “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability” as the Senate moves forward to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). The hearing witnesses included Dr. Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute; Zakiya Smith of the Lumina Foundation; Dr. Jenna Robinson from the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal; Dr. Robert Anderson of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association; and Dr. DeRionne Pollard of Montgomery College. The witnesses written testimony can be accessed at https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/reauthorizing-the-higher-education-act-improving-college-affordability.

The HELP Committee Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), noted Congress can help students afford college by looking more closely at the $28 billion in grants and $92 billion in loans the federal government currently spends annually. This will likely mean simplifying student aid, redirecting existing dollars for additional Pell grants, helping students complete college more rapidly, and holding colleges more accountable for students repaying loans.

The Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), described four areas that Democrats would like to see addressed in a comprehensive HEA reauthorization: college affordability; increased access for underrepresented students; holding colleges and universities accountable for student success and outcomes; and addressing the growing amount of discrimination, harassment, and assault occurring on college campuses.

Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray are expected to negotiate a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill over the coming months.

Secretary DeVos Announces ESSA Funding Flexibility Pilot: Up to 50 school districts can now apply to participate in a pilot program established by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to “design and implement a student-centered funding system that meets all statutory requirements of the pilot program, including the use of weights that allocate substantially more funding to students from low-income families, to English language learners and to any other educationally disadvantaged student group identified by the school district.” For applicants intending to use this flexibility during the 2018-2019 school year, the application is due by March 12, 2018. For applicants intending to use the flexibility during the 2019-2020 school year, the application is due by July 15, 2018.

Thanks to everyone for making the 2018 NSBA Advocacy Institute a success! Your voice was heard — NSBA continues to hear from Congressional staff about the importance of local control. Please let the advocacy team know any of any follow up to ensure we can continue to have an impactful advocacy agenda.

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Deadline is February 28 for reporting E-rate data


Source: Minnesota Department of Education

The annual reporting of E-Rate cost data for the purpose of calculating the fiscal year 2018 Minnesota Telecom Access Equity Aid began February 1, 2018, and continues until February 28.

Details on data submission and telecom cluster addresses are included in the memorandum from Lonn Moe, titled “Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid Superintendent Memorandum.”

View this memo at http://www.mnmsba.org/Portals/0/TelecomMemo-2-1-2018.pdf.

Further information is available on Minnesota Department of Education’s Facilities and Technology webpage at http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/schfin/fac.

Contact Lonn Moe, Division of School Finance, at lonn.moe@state.mn.us if you have any questions.

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Minnesota Department of Education holding Data Dashboard focus groups this week


The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) releases public report cards on an annual basis that describe the overall performance and context of Minnesota schools and districts.

MDE has scheduled a series of Data Dashboard focus group meetings this week. This will be an opportunity for people to share their ideas about what type of information should be publicly reported about schools and districts in Minnesota as well as how that information should be presented.

Participants will be able to look at Minnesota’s current report card and also examples from other states in order to bring in some fresh ideas. MDE anticipates developing a new report card in 2018 based on the feedback.

Please see the focus group meeting schedule below. The January 24 and January 25 meetings are slated for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for parents, community members, and business leaders — and then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for educators.

Please note that the January 26 meeting is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for ONLY parents, community and business leaders.

Please RSVP to MDE’s Stephanie Graff at stephanie.graff@state.mn.us or 651-582-8242.

  • Wednesday, January 24 — Creekside Community Center, 9801 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55431
  • Thursday, January 25 — Northwest Foundation, 201 3rd St NW, Bemidji, MN 56601
  • Friday, January 26 — Research and Outreach Engagement Center, 2011 Plymouth Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 (the January 26 meeting is for parents, community members and business leaders ONLY)

Note: Meetings scheduled for Worthington (January 22) and St. Paul (January 23) were canceled due to weather.

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Broadband Task Force recommends more funding for broadband grant program


The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recently released its 2017 Annual Report.

The report highlighted the work of the Broadband Task Force and included policy recommendations for the governor and Legislature.

The task force has studied issues related to broadband affordability, adoption and accessibility, and has made recommendations to remove barriers to broadband deployment and modernize Minnesota’s telecommunications regulatory framework.

MSBA staff member Denise Dittrich is a member of the Broadband Task Force. “It has been an honor to serve on this task force,” Dittrich said.

This report contains two recommendations to Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature:

  • Provide $71.48 million in ongoing biennial funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.
  • Provide the Office of Broadband Development with $500,000 in ongoing biennial funding and maintain the existing partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.

Visit https://mn.gov/deed/assets/2017-bbtf-annual-report_tcm1045-323417.pdf to view the report.

“This is the task force’s last report to Gov. Dayton,” Dittrich said. “It will be up to the next governor on whether or not to continue the work of the Broadband Task Force.”

Visit https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband to learn more about the Broadband Task Force.

See http://www.mnmsba.org/Portals/0/2017-BBTF-Report-Press-Release.docx to view a press release.

Direct questions about the Broadband Task Force to Denise Dittrich at ddittrich@mnmsba.org.

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