Lawmakers Continue to Negotiate FY22 Spending Bill
Last October, Congress was unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). As a result, federal lawmakers have relied on a series of short-term funding measures—known as continuing resolutions (CR)—to continue government operations past the formal start of federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) on October 1, 2021. These CRs simply extend last fiscal year’s funding levels for federal programs like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for a pre-determined period of time. The most recent of these CRs is set to expire March 11.
Until recently, lawmakers were optimistic that they would find agreement on full-year funding for the remaining six months of FY22. However, lawmakers are currently disagreeing on how best to provide emergency aid to address the ongoing Ukrainian crisis as well as on whether to provide additional supplemental funding to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Until these disagreements are reconciled, lawmakers are at an impasse, at least temporarily, on full-year FY22 funding. Should agreement not be reached in the coming days, Congress will likely pass an additional CR to provide more time for these negotiations to continue. As these efforts unfold, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to champion robust investments for school districts’ funding priorities, including increasing formula funding for ESSA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Congress Passes Bipartisan Suicide Prevention Legislation
Last week, the House passed the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention Act of 2021, also called the STANDUP Act (S. 1543). First introduced by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), this bipartisan bill would provide mental health grants to school districts and state and tribal education agencies to establish and implement a school-based student suicide awareness and prevention training policy for students in grades 6 through 12 in consultation with stakeholders, including principals, teachers, parents, local tribal officials, and other school leaders. The bill passed the Senate by a voice vote last December and it is on its way to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.
This legislation is among the first bills passed as part of Congress’ renewed effort to address mental health needs and suicide prevention. Several House and Senate committees have begun hearings to examine this priority more closely and discuss changes needed to address the needs of youth and others.
NSBA is engaged in this current bipartisan dialogue to address positions adopted by the Delegate Assembly for greater and sustained federal resources that expand access to mental health services and support comprehensive “wrap-around” services to schools that include a range of community resources to address safety and intervention. Among the concerns that have been raised in Senate Finance Committee hearings, for example, are 1) shortage of mental health professionals; and 2) changes needed for reimbursement parity under school-based Medicaid reimbursement, as preventive services and early childhood mental health services are currently underreimbursed.
President Biden Delivers State of the Union
On Tuesday, March 1, President Biden delivered the annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. While a significant portion of the speech was devoted to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the President emphasized the importance of education and investments in workforce development. The President highlighted the role the American Rescue Plan has had in helping schools and students respond to learning loss due to school disruptions caused by the pandemic. The President also encouraged lawmakers to, in part, “Invest in America. Educate Americans. Grow the work force. Build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.” He also went on to emphasize the importance of skills-based training and hiring, arguing for greater support for apprenticeship programs to help develop a skilled workforce.
USED Releases New CTE Factsheet
Late last Friday, February 25, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released a new factsheet highlighting how states and local school districts can make use of funding from the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding to support high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs. In particular the factsheet emphasized CTE as a powerful way to reengage students to cultivate high-demand skills needed for jobs of the future. The resource highlighted several states’ efforts to use these resources to develop, expand, or otherwise implement CTE activities as part of their recovery efforts. The factsheet can be accessed here.
Upcoming Broadband Webinars
The BroadbandUSA program, housed within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), serves state, local, and tribal governments, industry, and nonprofits that seek to expand broadband connectivity and promote digital inclusion. In March, April, and May NTIA will hold a series of technical assistance webinars prior to releasing their notice of funding opportunity.
These webinars will help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s broadband grant programs to distribute funds included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and to help applicants prepare high-quality grant applications. NTIA’s first webinar, scheduled for March 9 at 2:30 pm, will serve as a broadband technology and economics primer. NTIA will hold additional technical assistance webinars in the coming weeks on Engagement and Partnerships; Enabling Conditions; Digital Equity and Inclusion; and Managing Costs and Supply Chains. It is important that schools are at the table when broadband strategies are being discussed.
Register for the March 9 webinar and see the complete schedule of NTIA webinars at https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/events/latest-events.
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 – Innovative Technology-Based Approaches for Assessing Children with Disabilities – 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 priority for this discretionary grant competition is “Innovative Technology-Based Approaches for Assessing Children with Disabilities.” These approaches will provide new sources of data for children’s performance and help teachers more efficiently collect, organize, and share data when it is needed to measure student progress and performance. The Department intends to use approximately $1,000,000 for this competition; however, the actual level of funding will depend on final congressional action. Applications are due by May 2, 2022, and further information is available here.
USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of English Language Acquisition
National Professional Development Program – Authorized by ESEA, the National Professional Development Program awards grants to institutions of higher education, as well as other public or private entities, in consortia with SEAs or LEAs in order to provide professional development activities that are focused on improving instruction for students who are English Learners. The estimated available funds for this program total $25,500,000, contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due by April 29, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6898 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to change certain eligibility provisions for loan forgiveness for teachers, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Hayes, Jahana [D-CT-5]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of March 4, 2022