The House and Senate are in recess. The House will reconvene September 4. The Senate is scheduled to return August 15.
Senate to Consider Fiscal Year 2019 Education Funding Bill
Next week, the Senate is scheduled to begin debating its FY2019 appropriations bill (S. 3158) for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. Reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee several weeks ago, the bill would provide increases of $125 million each for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education grants and Title IV grants for Student Support and Academic Enrichment. NSBA’s letter to the Committee that supports these priority areas is posted here.
Career and Technical Education: The appropriations measure focuses on investments to address the workforce skills gap through Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE), apprenticeship grants, and STEM education. S. 3158 would maintain $1.2 billion in funding for Perkins CTE “to help States develop, expand, and improve their career and technical education programs in high school and post-secondary settings, and create pathways beginning in high-school to in-demand jobs and careers.” $160 million would be provided “to support the funding and development of industry or sector partnerships as a means of closing the skills gap and expanding apprenticeships in in-demand industries.” The bill would also provide $65 million in dedicated funding for STEM education, including computer science education. According to the Committee report, “This funding will expand access to high-quality STEM education for students, including students in rural schools, and build on the evidence-base of what works to improve student outcomes. In addition to this dedicated funding, several other programs, including formula grants to school districts through the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, which is increased by $125,000,000, can also be used for STEM education activities.”
Rural Education: For greater support to rural school districts, S. 3158 would direct the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize rural communities as part of all competitive grant programs, including funding for STEM education and charter schools “so that support and solutions developed with Federal funding are relevant to and available in such areas.”
School Safety: As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s School Safety National Activities program, the Committee “encourages the Department to fund a demonstration program to test and evaluate innovative partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-needs State or local educational agencies to train school counselors, social workers, psychologists, or other mental health professionals,” as this would foster innovative ideas for a pipeline between graduate programs that train these professionals and school districts to ultimately improve student outcomes.
This bill is being considered along with the FY2019 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Defense. We will keep you apprised as the appropriations process continues.
Districts File Comments in FCC Educational Broadband Service Rulemaking
On August 7, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) closed the initial comment window associated with the agency’s effort to update the Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Several school districts, including Broward (FL), King George County (VA) and Kings County (CA), filed comments urging the FCC to maintain the spectrum’s educational focus and to open new licensing windows. Educational entities, including school districts, use EBS spectrum to deliver wireless broadband service to students that would otherwise lack access to broadband outside school. The FCC has not, however, provided an opportunity for school districts to acquire new EBS licenses for over twenty years. Arguing that districts need access to EBS licenses to help close the “homework gap,” several national commenters in the proceeding noted that a 2018 digital learning study by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, shows that geography plays an important role in home-based Internet access, and that students in “remote rural” and “distant rural” areas generally have more limited Internet access than students in suburbs, cities or towns. School districts interested in adding their voice to this proceeding (WT Docket No. 18-120) have until September 7 to file “Reply Comments” with the FCC at the agency’s Express Comment webpage.
Federal Commission on School Safety Convenes
On August 7, the Federal Commission on School Safety hosted a public listening session in Cheyenne, Wyoming that focused on mental health issues, including calls to expand mental health services to students. An archived video of the Wyoming listening session is posted here.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Education has not announced plans for additional listening sessions. NSBA has testified before the Commission and continues to impact its work regarding recommendations the Department plans to publish later this year. According to the Commission, its report will cover social emotional support for students, effective school safety infrastructure, the impact that videogames and the media have on violence, and related issues. Additional information about the Commission is available here.
U.S. Department of Education Issues New McKinney-Vento Guidance
The Every Student Succeeds Act made changes to the Title I reservation requirements for homeless students. On July 30, the Department of Education responded to questions about these changes, including the following:
- Does the ESEA [ESSA] require an LEA to reserve Title I funds under section 1113(c)(3) if all schools in the LEA are Title I schools?
- Does the ESEA require an LEA to reserve a specific amount of Title I funds to serve homeless students under section 1113(c)(3)?
The new guidance is posted here:
Please access the Office of Safe and Healthy Students webpage for more resources focused on federal supports for homeless children and youth.
Courtesy NSBA Federal Update - Week of August 10, 2018