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.”