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Bipartisan bill would extend school meal waivers

A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to extend school meal waivers that were enacted in response to the pandemic. Without Congressional action, those waivers are set to expire on June 30, 2022.

The existing waivers, which allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive various requirements that govern how schools can serve meals and who can get them, also increased the reimbursement rates for school food programs. (more…)

U.S. Senate moves closer to passage of bipartisan school and gun safety package

A bipartisan package of measures aimed at improving school safety (see previous post) has cleared its first hurdle toward passage in the U.S. Senate. The 64-to-34 vote came just hours after Republicans and Democrats released the text of the legislation.  Proponents hope to pass the bill through the U.S. Senate by Saturday.

The 80-page bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would provide millions of dollars for expanding mental health resources in communities and schools in addition to funds devoted to boosting school safety. 

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Bipartisan group of US senators reaches agreement on framework for school safety legislation

A bipartisan group of 20 U.S. senators led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced yesterday (6/12) they have reached agreement on what they called “a commonsense proposal” to curb gun violence and increase school safety.  

The nine-point proposal would invest billions of federal dollars in enhanced children and family mental health services, fund school-based mental health services, and fund new safety measures at schools.  The bipartisan plan would also spend federal resources to encorage states to pass and implement so-called “red flag” laws that aim to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed dangerous to the community, strengthen criminal background check requirements for gun buyers younger than 21, and strengthen penalties for illegal “straw purchases” by convicted criminals. (more…)

Federal guidance on using COVID relief funds to prevent and respond to crime and promote public safety

In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, some school leaders have asked whether federal COVID relief funds may be used for school safety purposes.

We are reminded that the U.S. Department of Education previously published this guidance about how ESSER III funds may be used to prevent and respond to crime and promote public safety.  School leaders may want to give this guidance a fresh look. (more…)

Wisconsin’s ESSER III Plan receives final approval from U.S. Education Department

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received confirmation this morning that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has granted final approval of Wisconsin’s ESSER III plan. ESSER III refers to federal COVID relief funding that was allocated to K-12 education under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed by Congress in March 2021.  States were required by the APRA to submit plans for how they would spend this funding and get those plans approved by the USED.

Much of the state’s plan was approved by the USED in December 2021; however, the USED deemed a portion of the plan not to comply with provisions in the ARPA requiring funds to be used to address both the academic impact of lost instructional time during the pandemic and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on certain subgroups of students. The state submitted a revised plan in early February addressing the USED’s objections and that plan was finally approved this week. (more…)

Wis. Supreme Court adopts GOP-drawn legislative maps

In what is likely to be the final court chapter in the current legislative redistricting saga, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has sided with the state’s GOP Legislature over the state’s Democratic governor on the question of what legislative boundaries will be in place for this fall’s election.

In a 4-3 decision handed down on Friday (April 15), Wisconsin’s high Court adopted legislative maps submitted by the Republican-led state Legislature that it had earlier rejected in favor of maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. (more…)