New Federal Spending Law Provides $2.6 Billion for Education

The National Association of School Boards published its weekly update highlighting Education funding in the much anticipated spending bill.

Congress Completes FY’18 Appropriations Process
This week, the Senate (vote of 65-32) and House (vote of 256-167) approved a massive $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 spending bill to bring the fiscal year 2018 spending process to a close following a nearly six-month delay. The compromise bill, which the president has signed, provides a $2.6 billion increase for the U.S. Department of Education, including the following funding levels:

Major K-12 Formula Programs
● ESSA, Title I: $15.7 billion ($300 million increase)
● ESSA, Title II: $2 billion (level funding)
● ESSA, Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment: $1.1 billion ($700 million increase). The program support safe and healthy students, including school mental health services, bullying and harassment prevention, mentoring and school counseling, and training for school personnel.
● IDEA State Grants: $12.2 billion ($275 million increase)
● Perkins Career and Technical Education: $1.19 billion ($75 million increase)
In addition to the funding allocated for the Perkins CTE program through the U.S. Department of Education, Congress appropriated funding for related programs under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration that includes $2.8 billion for job training grants to states, $89.5 million for YouthBuild, and $145 million for apprenticeship grants.

Other Key K-12 Programs
● Teacher Quality Partnerships: $43.09 million (level funding)
● 21st Century Community Learning Centers: $1.212 billion ($20 million increase)
● State Assessments: $378 million ($8.9 million increase)
● Education, Innovation and Research Grants: $120 million ($20 million increase)
● Supporting Effective Educator Development: $75 million, ($10 million increase)
● School Safety National Activities: $90 million, which is a $22 million increase above the FY2017 level
● Office for Civil Rights: $117 million ($8.5 million increase)
● Statewide Family Engagement Centers: $10 million (new funding)
● Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems: $32.28 million (level funding)

Early Learning and Care (Department of Health and Human Services)
● Preschool Development Grants: $250 million (level funding)
● Child Care and Development Block Grants: $5.226 billion ($2.37 billion increase)
● Head Start: $9.863 billion ($610 million increase)

Child Nutrition (Department of Agriculture)
● Child Nutrition Program: $24.1 billion ($1.4 billion increase)
● School Breakfast Program Equipment Grants: $30 million ($5 million increase)
● Demonstration Projects (Summer EBT): $28 million ($5 million increase)

Given that the omnibus spending bill may be the last major legislation approved by Congress before the midterm elections, the measure also includes notable new policy provisions with implications for school districts such as the following:

● Stop School Violence Act: The Bureau of Justice Assistance (Department of Justice) is authorized to make grants to States, units of local government, and Indian tribes to support evidence-based programs, violence prevention efforts, and anonymous reporting systems. Funds may also be used to support physical security upgrades for schools, like “metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures.” Sub-awards may be made to school districts, non profit organizations and other units of local government or tribal organizations. The bill re-allocates $75 million from the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (DoJ) to the SSVA. Additionally, the funding allocation of $1.1 billion noted above for ESSA Title IV grants for Student Support and Academic Enrichment can be used by states and school districts as a resource for school safety. Among the eligible uses of this program is supporting safe and healthy students with comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, and training on trauma-informed practices.

● Secure Rural Schools Program: Congress provided two years of support for the lapsed Secure Rural Schools program, which offers formula payments to qualified “forest counties.” SRS payments go to counties nationwide, but they mainly go to rural, Western counties with a high presence of Bureau of Land Management or National Forest System lands. Funding from the SRS program supports school districts as a payment in lieu of property tax revenues for non-taxable forest lands.

● Rural Utility Service Broadband Pilot: The bill authorizes the Rural Utility Service (Department of Agriculture) to launch a $600 million distance learning, telemedicine broadband program. The bill notes that the funding should be prioritized to areas currently lacking access to broadband service, and investments in broadband shall consider any technology that best serves the goals of broadband expansion.

Other important policy provisions, however, were not addressed in the omnibus spending bill. Congress failed to include a solution for the students, teachers and other individuals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The bill also does not address the internet sales tax issue, pending before the Supreme Court (South Dakota v. Wayfair) that is putting growing pressure on state and local revenues. Further, Congress declined to include health care funding sought by a bipartisan group of lawmakers for programs like cost-sharing subsidies and reinsurance to help avoid insurance premium hikes this fall.


Disaster Relief Funding Application Released: Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos released the application for state educational agencies to apply for initial funding under the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (Restart) program. Under the Restart initiative the Department of Education is authorized to award funds to eligible SEAs, including those of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and U.S. Virgin Islands. The funding is to assist school districts to help defray costs related to the restart of operations in, the reopening of, and the re-enrollment of students in schools that serve an area affected by a covered disaster or emergency. The Secretary also announced new federal assistance for students and schools impacted by the October 2017 California wildfires. The California Department of Education will receive $2 million in Project SERV funds to aid in their recovery efforts.

School Safety Commission Members Named: The Administration’s newly formed School Safety Commission members will include Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The Commission is expected to hold its first meeting in the coming weeks.

President Trump Declares March 18 to 24 as Vocational-Technical Education Week: On Monday, President Trump released a proclamation designating this week as Vocational-Technical Education Week. He said, “Across our great Nation, vocational-technical schools prepare Americans for careers in critical sectors of our economy, including manufacturing, construction, and technology fields. These industries are essential to our Nation’s prosperity and security, as well as to our success in the competitive global marketplace.”



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Daily Education Bill Introductions — March 22, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

See the Senate and House education bill introductions below for March 22, 2018.

Visit The MSBA Advocate for updates each day bills are introduced.

House Education Bill Introductions March 22nd 2018

Senate Education Bill Introductions March 22nd 2018

For more information, please visit our website.

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School boards’ support helps move BWCAW land swap forward


Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

School districts’ resolutions could result in $4 million in aid from Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) land swap has taken a step forward.

On Wednesday, March 21, the U.S. Congress unveiled its omnibus spending bill. If the bill passes, $4 million would be appropriated for the BWCAW project through the Land and Water Conversation Fund (LWCF).

The Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) has been a longtime advocate of the land swap. This year, many Minnesota public school boards passed MSBA-generated resolutions that favored the land swap.

A congressional report encourages the private forestland exchange alternative (Plan B). The language in the report states that both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations support the continuation of efforts to resolve the longstanding management challenges regarding School Trust Lands within the BWCAW in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.

“While this is only the first round of funding, the project is now in the LWCF funding pipeline for future phases, said Aaron Vande Linde, director of the School Trust Lands. “Thank you to all the school districts who passed resolutions in supporting the project.”

The committees also encouraged the U.S. Forest Service to collaborate with nonprofit partners on the private forestland exchange alternative, which will provide the added benefit of preserving valuable forestlands outside of Superior National Forest.

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Daily Education Bill Introductions — March 21, 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

See the Senate and House education bill introductions below for March 21, 2018.

Visit The MSBA Advocate for updates each day bills are introduced.

House Education Bill Introductions March 21st 2018

Senate Education Bill Introductions March 21st 2018

For more information, please visit our website.

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Daily Education Bill Introductions — March 19, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

See the Senate and House education bill introductions below for March 19, 2018.

Visit The MSBA Advocate for updates each day bills are introduced.

House Education Bill Introductions March 19th 2018

Senate Education Bill Introductions March 19th 2018

Additionally, the bill introductions for Thursday March 15th are included below.

House Education Bill Introductions March 15th 2018

Senate Education Bill Introductions March 15th 2018

For more information, please visit our website.

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Governor’s supplemental budget identifies some crucial funding issues

MSBA is pleased that Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget has identified some crucial funding needs for Minnesota public schools.

Special Education Cross-Subsidy

One of MSBA members’ biggest concerns is finding a solution for the $679 million cross-subsidy for special education. Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal looks to fund nearly $17 million of that amount in FY19 and recommends another $43 million in the next biennium. MSBA has lead the charge in creating of a special education funding task force (HF 2846/SF 2698) that can look at the funding issues and recommend steps to fund the $679 million cross-subsidy over a period of time. We are hopeful such a group can be established for long-term funding issues.  The governor has proposed an additional $43 million in the 2020/21 biennium to address school district special education costs.

School safety

The governor’s support of Safe and Secure School Act is very timely, and would be a one-time benefit of $18 per pupil for school safety – whether it be for building improvements, police liaisons or programs suited to a school’s safety needs.  His proposal also establishes a school-based mental health grant opportunity.  In FY 2020 and beyond, the proposal would double the safe school levy from $36 per pupil to $72 per pupil and establish a minimum levy amount of $30,000.  And, the proposal would equalize the safe school levy.

TRA solution

MSBA is also glad to see Gov. Dayton tackling the issue of teacher pensions.  Adequate state aid to fund the employer portion of the increase ($10.8 million) is very important to our school boards and districts.

Additional proposals related to E-12 education include:

  • Increasing funding for voluntary Pre-K and School Readiness
  • Expanding Early Learning Scholarships to children from low-income families who are 3 years old or younger, and giving parents more time to use the scholarships.
  • Increasing funding to the Help Me Grow system for children and their families served from birth to third-grade.
  • Money for background checks for all Head Start locations
  • Increasing funding for kindergarten students with a disability
  • Simplifying referendum and Local Optional Revenue calculations
  • Using leftover Regional Library Telecom Aid to be used to improve internet access at public schools
  • Removing the funding cap for Q Comp program participants
  • Cutting off-grade test questions to shorten the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments
  • One-time funding of Border-to-Border Broadband grants to underserved areas of the state (Employment and Economic Development)
  • In total, the governor’s supplemental budget for 2018-19 proposes to invest an additional $35.9 million in the education portion of the state’s budget.

“The proposals to the supplemental budget around special education, safe schools and stabilizing school district budgets with respect to the employer portion of the TRA are critical for our school boards and school districts,” said Kirk Schneidawind, MSBA’s Executive Director.


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Volkswagen settlement would provide bus grants

We want to update you on some recent news related to the Volkswagen settlement. The state of Minnesota’s share of the Volkswagen emission settlement was $47 million. Gov. Mark Dayton designated the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to manage the settlement funds, which will be spent over 10 years on projects to offset the excess pollution from the violating vehicles.

After seeking input from stakeholders, which included MSBA (see letter from MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind), Minnesota’s plan is structured into three phases, so the MPCA can seek additional input and make changes as needed along the way.

The three phases are:

  • Phase I: $11.75 million (25 percent of all funds) — 2018-19
  • Phase II: $23.5 million (50 percent) — 2020-2023
  • Phase III: $11.75 million (25 percent) — 2024-2027


The program would provide grants for the replacement of school buses up to $10,000 each, or $15,000 each for operators serving school districts where 40 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch. All Minnesota school bus operators including public and private schools are eligible.

It is important to note that the state’s ability to fund projects in each category at the target levels will depend on the applications received and interest by vehicle and equipment owners. The exact percentages may change based on the demand. The table above reflects the preferred investment scenario, but if they do not receive sufficient applications in a category, the MPCA could shift funds between the grant program proposal.

The application process for schools has not yet been completed since the MPCA is still in an open comment period. MSBA expects an application process will be developed and available in summer 2018.

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