House Passes Short-Term Funding Extension
The formal start of the current federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, lawmakers in Congress have been unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for FY22. Congress has passed a series of short-term funding measures—known as a continuing resolution (CR)—to extend FY21 funding levels through the current federal fiscal year. To date, these actions have averted a federal government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The most recent of these CRs is set to expire February 18, 2022.
On Tuesday, February 8, lawmakers in the House passed another CR to extend current funding levels, yet again, for federal operations and programs through March 11. This measure passed the chamber by a margin of 272-162. Shortly following House passage, the Senate began consideration of the legislation. The Senate is widely expected to take up and pass this measure in the coming days, ahead of the current February 18 deadline. The passage of the CR is intended to provide lawmakers additional time to find agreement on a full-year funding bill for FY22. Leaders in both the House and the Senate have more recently announced agreement on a framework to move forward on full-year funding and have, at least publicly, struck an optimistic tone regarding the prospects for this agreement. As these efforts unfold, NSBA is continuing to champion school districts’ funding priorities including federal education formula dollars, such as ESSA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
HELP Committee Advances USED Nominees
Yesterday, February 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to consider and vote on several Biden Administration nominees. Among those considered was Glenna Wright-Gallo to be the next Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Wright-Gallo, who most recently was an Assistant Superintendent of Special Education, was advanced by the committee by a vote of 14-8. Her nomination goes to the full Senate for further consideration and a vote at a later date. More information on the hearing can be found here.
House to Hold Hearing Next Week on Safe and Healthy Schools
Next Wednesday, February 16, the House Education & Labor’s Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee will be holding a hearing titled “Serving All Students: Promoting a Healthier, More Supportive School Environment.” Witnesses have not yet been announced. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
FCC Announced Ninth Wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments
On Tuesday, February 8, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a ninth wave of funding commitments totaling over $125 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of NSBA’s top legislative priorities over the past year. This round of commitments will support 270,00 students by providing funding to over 340 schools, 20 libraries, and 6 consortia who are set to receive 330,000 connected devices and over 39,000 broadband connections. More on the announcement can be found here.
USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program – Educational Materials in Accessible Formats for Eligible Children and Students with Disabilities – The Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities grant program seeks to improve results for children with disabilities by “(1) promoting the development, demonstration, and use of technology; (2) supporting educational activities designed to be of educational value in the classroom; (3) providing support for captioning and video description that is appropriate for use in the classroom; and (4) providing accessible educational materials (AEM) to children with disabilities in a timely manner.” The goal of the priority in this discretionary grant program is to ultimately create a center that would provide high-quality, free educational materials in “fully accessible media” for children and students of all ages. Out of $29,547,000 requested by the Administration for this grant program, $8,500,000 would be used for this specific competition. Funding will depend on final congressional action. Applications are due by April 11, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6687 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To direct the Secretary of Education to establish a competitive grant program to award grants to local educational agencies to address implicit bias in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Del. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large]
- H.R.6619 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Unmask Our Kids Act Sponsor: Rep. Hinson, Ashley [R-IA-1]
- H.R.6613 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Keeping School Meals Flexible Act Sponsor: Rep. Spanberger, Abigail Davis [D-VA-7]
- H.R.6608 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Scratch Cooked Meals for Students Act Sponsor: Rep. Hayes, Jahana [D-CT-5]
- H.R.6603 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Ending Common Core and Expanding School Choice Act Sponsor: Rep. Biggs, Andy [R-AZ-5]
- H.R.6585 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Jumpstart on College Act Sponsor: Rep. Espaillat, Adriano [D-NY-13]
- S.3604 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A bill to prohibit Federal funds from being made available to any preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, or secondary school that has a facemask mandate. Sponsor: Sen. Cotton, Tom [R-AR]
NSBA Advocates for Continued Flexibility for Child Nutrition Programs
NSBA joined the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and nearly 2,000 national, state, and local organizations from every state across the country, in a letter urging Congress to swiftly extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) authority to issue nationwide waivers for the Child Nutrition Programs beyond the current waivers’ expiration date of June 30, 2022.
Extensions will ensure schools, youth-serving and community-based organizations, and child care providers have the resources needed to effectively provide meals—no matter what the school day looks like—to close the childhood hunger gap; improve child nutrition and wellness; enhance child development and school readiness; and improve learning, attendance, and behavior.
NSBA Advocates for Increased IDEA Funding
As Congress negotiates a spending bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 22, NSBA and several education groups conveyed strong support for a significant increase in the federal investment in special education programs in a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders. This action supports NSBA’s resolution to fully fund IDEA.
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of February 11, 2022