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Some suggestions to provide help with school districts’ technology needs

Partnering with Municipalities in novel ways

School districts having difficulty coping with the unexpected costs associated with COVID-19 may find unexpected help from their underlying municipalities. 

That’s because municipalities that do not plan to fully utilize their allotment from the Routes to Recovery program, funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, may be able to partner with school districts. The municipality can, or example, purchase laptops or tablets, etc., for distance learning and teleworking for their schools and donate them to the district.

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Mid-September federal update: more stimulus looks unlikely, PPE supplies, CDC guidance

Hopes remain dim for a deal on additional Coronavirus stimulus relief before Election Day

According to The Hill, a media source focused on events on Capitol Hill:

“Senate Republican leaders are hoping to let their colleagues hit the campaign trail at the end of next week, acknowledging the slim chances of passing significant legislation other than a government funding stopgap before Election Day. (more…)

U.S. Senate GOP “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill rejected; deal before election unlikely

U.S. Senate GOP “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill rejected; deal before election unlikely

A pared down fifth coronavirus relief bill was blocked by Senate Democrats on Sept 10 leading GOP Senators to declare that no deals will be reached before the election on Nov 3.  The GOP relief bill received a 52-47 vote but needed 60 votes to advance a procedural hurdle in the chamber.  All Democrats voted against it in the latest development in negotiations to agree on a price tag for the latest relief bill.  

From The Hill: “Democrats have offered to come down to $2.2 trillion, after House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May. Senate Republicans offered an initial $1.1 trillion bill in late July, though (Treasury Secretary) Mnuchin has said they could come up to $1.5 trillion. But Republicans have rejected a request from (House Speaker) Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader) Schumer that they increase their offer to $2 trillion — something administration officials and GOP senators have dismissed as a non-starter.”

Ed Week also reported that there were GOP school choice provisions inserted in the rejected bill. (more…)

Sec. DeVos quietly drops controversial USED rule routing more vital CARES Act funding to private schools

Sec. DeVos quietly drops controversial USED rule routing more vital CARES Act funding to private schools

A controversial rule championed by United States Education Department (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos that would have diverted additional CARES Act to private schools has been quietly rescinded after several federal courts ruled against it. This is good news for public schools in that they will be allowed to allocate equitable services to private schools like federal Title 1 funds as planned according to DPI guidance presented to and approved by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

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Voluntary Payroll Tax Deferral Program available but not recommended

The President signed an executive order that was issued on August 8, 2020 that allows employers to participate in a voluntary program to defer withholding of the payroll tax attributable to social security (6.2%) on wages paid out between September 1 and December 31, 2020.

This voluntary program became effective yesterday (Sept. 1).

It is the WASB’s opinion that the employer has an option as to whether or not to opt into the program to defer the withholding and payment of the employee’s portion of the Social Security Tax.  Please see the information from the IRS that describes the guidance:

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End of August Wrap-Up Part 2: A look at at what’s happening at the federal level

USDA Extends Certain Federal School Meal Plan Waivers Through Dec. 31
Today (8/31), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will extend certain federal school meal waivers that had been extended through August 2020 until the end of the current calendar year.  According to the USDA, the move means summer meal programs can continue operating as funding allows.  Preliminary news reports indicate this will permit schools to offer food to all kids, regardless of income or enrollment, through the end of 2020 “as funding allows.”  Among other things, the waivers announced today extend meal pattern waivers, congregate meal waivers and meal time waivers and allow parents to continue to pick up meals on weekdays and weekends from schools or other designated sites rather than only at schools. (more…)