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Additional details on education provision in Senate GOP COVID-19 aid package

From NSBA: Senate Republicans unveiled a new COVID-19 pandemic response plan with a total funding level of approximately $1 trillion. It addresses public education in a variety of ways. The proposed legislation includes $105 billion for education including approximately $70 billion for K-12 education. However, two-thirds of the funding is only available to districts with approved re-opening plans that must be submitted to and approved by the Governor.  Republican leaders are referring to the comprehensive legislative section focused on appropriations as the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools). 

The legislation in its current form has significant opposition but it will be used as a starting point for negotiations with the Democrats. It is expected it will change significantly as it moves through the legislative process. However, we wanted to highlight the proposal’s major education components and their potential impact on local school districts. There are multiple major troublesome issues with the legislation including inadequate funding levels, no dedicated funds for the homework gap, shifts toward moving funds to private education, and requirements around school building reopening restricting many of the funds. The summary of the major legislative sections impacting public schools follows: (more…)

Fed update: Senate GOP school aid package would tie two-thirds of funding to reopening to in-person instruction

Fed update: Senate GOP school aid package would tie two-thirds of funding to reopening to in-person instruction

From the NSBA National Connection:

Chalkbeat (7/27, Barnum, Darville) reports Senate Republicans introduced their coronavirus relief package Monday, which earmarks $70 billion for K-12 public and private schools. A third of that pot would go to all schools regardless of their plans for next year, but the remaining two-thirds “would only be accessible to schools if they offer some in-person instruction – something that schools in many parts of the country have decided is unsafe to do for now.” To qualify for these funds, schools will need to offer “in-person learning for at least half of their students and for at least half of the school week.” The condition placed on the funding is “a testament to the economic and political importance Republican lawmakers attach to reopening school buildings, and sets up school schedules to continue to serve as a flashpoint in the weeks ahead.” Democrats have “indicated they will strongly oppose tying funds to reopening, and education groups immediately criticized the Republican proposal.” (more…)

NSBA, others ask Congress for school funding to be included in potential fourth federal COVID-19 response legislation

From the National School Board Association (NSBA):

Attached is a coalition letter the National School Boards Association contributed to and signed onto that is being delivered to Congressional leaders.  The letter addresses both continuing issues that districts and schools are facing and addresses many of the new issues we know are occurring in districts across the nation. We are continuing our individual recommendations and efforts with Congress but also working when appropriate with other organizations. We believe this letter sends a strong message that education groups are unified going forward.”

The recommendations include calls for: (more…)

Special update on E-Rate and broadband: FCC considers cap on Universal Service Fund

As we noted in an earlier post, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing an overall cap on Universal Service Fund (USF) revenue and a sub-cap on USF allocations to the E-Rate and Rural Health Care programs. We are concerned these actions could potentially damage these important programs, and especially E-Rate.

The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on its proposal, which could force the four programs funded under USF, including E-Rate, to battle each other for funds. The FCC is calling for comments by a July 15 deadline with reply comments due thirty days later. This is an especially tough deadline for schools to meet, as most are out for the summer and, chances are, few teachers and administrators are focused on federal policy making. (more…)

Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags

Among other state budget actions, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines last week to transfer $22 million in federal e-rate funds (which are meant to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries–the “e” in e-rate stands for “education”) in each year of the budget to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The amount transferred is $19.8 million more than what the Governor’s budget had proposed.

While this may be viewed by some as good news for rural areas that currently lack adequate broadband (high-speed internet) connections, it could spell concerns for schools and libraries in the future. (more…)

Encourage Congress to fully fund IDEA

While there are relatively few things about public education funding that governors, state legislators and school board members from across the political spectrum agree on, one of them is likely that the federal government is under-funding special education in this country.

A renewed push is now underway for Congress to fully fund the federal commitment under the federal special education law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  You can join in that effort. (more…)