Congress Set to Return Next Week with Looming Funding Deadline
Congress was adjourned for the President’s Day recess this week but will return to Capitol Hill next Monday. Just before lawmakers went on break, they worked with the White House to provide additional temporary federal funding to the Department of Education and other agencies through March 11. The extension provides additional time for Congress to negotiate a full-year funding deal for the roughly six months remaining in fiscal year 2022. As negotiations continue, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to champion robust investments for school districts’ funding priorities, including increasing formula funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
NTIA Director Testifies About Broadband Infrastructure Programs
On February 16, Alan Davidson, Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, testified before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology about NTIA’s plans for administering the broadband programs created by the bipartisan infrastructure law. Subcommittee members asked Mr. Davidson a range of questions about NTIA’s plans, including ensuring that program funds focus on unserved areas, promoting public transparency and accountability, and ensuring the program is administratively accessible to all communities. When asked about the timing for beginning the large broadband state grants program, Davidson said the process will begin with a notice of funding opportunity that will be published in the Federal Register on May 16. The broadband infrastructure programs administered by NTIA will provide grant opportunities for communities that can help close the Homework Gap. School districts should be prepared to work with state leaders on implementation of these programs.
FCC Extends ECF Spending Deadline
This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended the deadline for Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) awardees to spend grant funding. 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. The FCC’s new order will formally extend the initial ECF service delivery deadline of June 30, 2022 by one additional year, to June 30, 2023.
New Resource Highlights How States Use American Rescue Plan Funds to Reengage Students through Career and Technical Education
The U.S. Department of Education released a new fact sheet highlighting ways states and school districts are using American Rescue Plan funds to reengage students and enhance academic learning by expanding career and technical education (CTE) opportunities. As schools help students address lost instructional time, high-quality CTE programs can be a powerful tool to boost school engagement and on-time graduation.
The USED Office of Postsecondary Education published the following grant notice: Language Resource Centers Program – The Language Resources Centers grant program provides funding to institutions of higher education to establish and operate centers that seek to improve teaching and learning of foreign languages, including using teacher training, research, materials development, assessment, and dissemination projects. The estimated available funds for this program total $2,746,768. Applications are due by April 25, 2022, and further information is available here.
The USED Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service published the following grant notices: Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program – Stepping-Up Technology Implementation – Grant funding for the Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Programs seeks to improve the results of children with disabilities in a variety of ways, including through the use of technology, supporting educational activities, providing captioning and video description support, as well as through the use and distribution of accessible educational materials. The one priority for this grant program is “Supporting Early Childhood and K-12 Educators of English Learners (ELs) with Disabilities and ELs at Risk to Deliver Literacy Instruction Based on the Science of Reading.” The Department intends to use $1,500,000 for this competition. Applications are due by April 25, 2022, and further information is available here. Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – National Technical Assistance Center to Support Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence-Based Practices – Grant funds under this program are to be used to improve results of children with disabilities, through technical assistance, model demonstration projects, the dissemination of information, and scientifically based research activities. The National Center that is the focus of the one priority in this notice would work to support a diverse educator workforce in order to ensure student learning is strengthened. The focus through this Center will be on evidence-based practices and support will be provided to educators. The Administration has requested $49,345,000 for the Technical Assistance program for 2022, of which $1,200,000 will be used for this competition. Applications are due by April 25, 2022, and further information is available here.
The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education published the following grant notice: Magnet Schools Assistance – Funds for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program are used to create and support magnet schools under desegregation plans. The program is authorized under ESEA and the application must demonstrate how the applicant intends to “align the elements of their proposed MSAP projects with their required (e.g., court-ordered) or voluntary desegregation plans…” The Administration requested $149,000,000 for this program for 2022, and $135,000,000 of this amount would be used for this particular competition. Applications are due by April 25, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6808 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To improve transparency relating to the expenditure of Federal emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Gallagher, Mike [R-WI-8]
- H.R.6781 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to permit video or telephone certifications under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Levin, Andy [D-MI-9]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of February 25, 2022