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Legislative Update

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

by | Jul 28, 2020 | Federal Issue, Legislative Update Blog, NSBA, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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.”

Education Week’s (7/27, Ujifusa, Blad) “Politics K-12” blog reports the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act contains “no additional budget aid provided to state and local governments, which could be a key factor in how much officials at those levels end up cutting their education budgets in the near future.” As its title implies, the HEALS Act also grants schools and universities protections from legal liability. The bill’s spending language, however, “does not say there’s a requirement for public school districts to provide equitable services to private school students.”

According to the Washington (DC) Post (7/27, Stein, Meckler, Romm), the package does authorize “one-time emergency funding for state scholarship programs, which help families pay for private school tuition and other expenses.” An unnamed Senate GOP aide “said this fund would get 10 percent of the $70 billion.”

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There's plenty of uncertainty about the outlook for education funding in both Madison and Washington, D.C. All the more reason to focus on advocacy, as the WASB government relations staff explain in their August Capitol Watch column.

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