House Lawmakers Approve Fiscal Year 2023 Education Funding Bill
On Thursday, June 23, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to consider and vote on the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill. If enacted the bill would provide $86.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (ED)—a proposed 13 percent increase over FY22 enacted levels for the agency and the programs it oversees. Notably, the legislation would increase funding for Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by 17.1 percent, bringing the total investment in this important program to $20.5 billion. In addition, the bill proposes a nearly 22 percent increase to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), particularly via increased investments in state IDEA grants.
Late Thursday evening, the subcommittee advanced this legislation by voice vote for further consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee—a next step that is scheduled for June 30. An archive webcast of the markup, including bill text, can be found here.
NSBA urges Congress and the Administration to provide increased funding and additional resources to support local school districts’ efforts to address students’ mental health, safety, and social needs. NSBA believes education funding should be of the highest federal priority to ensure that our nation’s students can meet the challenge of world-class standards and responsible citizenship.
Further, NSBA supports investments in early, elementary, and secondary education, including those to improve equity in educational opportunity, increase federal special education aid to meet Congress’ obligation to fund 40 percent of the cost of educating children under the requirements of IDEA, ensure that the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are fully funded as authorized in the law, support teacher preparation programs, and to ensure that school districts serving immigrant students or Limited English Proficient/English Language Learners (LEP/ELL) are provided with the necessary resources for those students as they make the transition into our society.
House and Senate Pass Agreement on Guns and School Safety
As shared last week, a bipartisan group of senators led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) announced that they reached agreement on a high-level framework in response to the latest mass shooting in a K-12 school. Since that time, these senators have been working to translate this agreement into legislative text. On Tuesday, June 21, this group unveiled the text of the agreement which will make modest changes to gun safety policies while investing significant new resources into mental health services, especially programs centered in schools. A factsheet of the agreement can be found here and text of the package can be found here. The bill passed by the Senate on June 23 by a vote of 65-33-2. The House is expected to take up and pass this measure later today.
Along with provisions regarding firearms, the measure includes several provisions to support children and family mental health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including resources for training and development to increase the number of mental health professionals for school-based services. Also, access to mental health services via telehealth platforms would be expanded under this legislation.
For school-based mental health services, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education to assist school districts and state Medicaid agencies with best practices and to issue guidance updating the May 2003 Medicaid School-Based Administrative Claiming Guide, the 1997 Medicaid and Schools Technical Assistance Guide, and other relevant directives. The bill would clarify that payments may be made to school-based entities under Medicaid for delivering assistance in accordance with an individualized education program (IEP) or under the policy described in the December 15, 2014, State Medicaid Director letter on payment for services.
This measure would also provide targeted assistance to small and rural school districts, resources to reduce administrative burdens and simplify billing for districts, and pediatric mental health care access grants to districts and emergency departments. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would provide more than $1 billion in additional funding to school districts and states via the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program through September 30, 2025. Among other provisions, this measure would provide additional funding for afterschool programs via the ESSA 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, more than $200 million in additional funding for the STOP School Violence grants administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, $250 million for community violence intervention and prevention initiatives, and $100 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
Senate HELP Committee Holds Pandemic Learning Hearing
On Wednesday, June 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled “Supporting Students and Schools: Promising Practices to Get Back on Track.” The hearing focused on the impact of the pandemic on student learning and how schools are working to reverse student learning loss and get them back on track. The hearing highlighted the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on student learning, especially those from underserved populations. Witnesses included a range of perspectives including Kurt Russell—the 2022 National Teacher of the Year. An archived webcast, including witness testimony, can be accessed here.
House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Extend USDA Waivers for Child Nutrition Services
Leaders of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Agriculture Committee announced an agreement on legislation this week—the Keep Kids Fed Act (H.R. 8150)—to extend school meal waiver authority to provide schools with the continued flexibility needed through this summer and the upcoming school year to help manage supply chain issues and labor shortages affecting child nutrition services. Without an extension of the current waivers, school districts and communities could face greater challenges in managing supply chain, operational, and access challenges impacting meal programs.
The House passed the Keep Kids Fed Act on June 23 by a vote of 376 to 42. Senate consideration is expected soon. As the Keep Kids Fed Act would extend the waivers through the 2022-23 school year, school food authorities (SFAs) will be able to update data regarding school meal participation, as these numbers have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver authority has helped districts address food insecurity for numerous students, which impacts their ability to learn and succeed in school.
Additionally, H.R. 8150 is budget neutral, as it would not authorize new expenditures. The text for the Keep Kids Fed Act is posted at https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/media/doc/keep_kids_fed_act_bill.pdf. An action alert is available at https://p2a.co/cSEAC3S to support the Keep Kids Fed Act. Please visit https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus/school-meals for further details regarding the USDA waiver authority.
Senate Finance Committee Releases Discussion Draft for Youth Mental Health Services Legislation
In response to several hearings exploring challenges affecting mental health services, the Senate Finance Committee has released its discussion draft for youth mental health services legislation that includes provisions to improve school-based mental health services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including targeted assistance to rural and small schools. This legislation also seeks to improve enforcement and oversight of Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit for children, streamline enrollment for out-of-state providers in another state’s Medicaid program, and direct Medicaid to guide states on how they can cover treatment for family care services for foster youth with intensive mental health needs.
This legislation is expected to be part of a larger, comprehensive mental health care package that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is drafting. The discussion draft is available at https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/061422%20Finance%20Committee%20Youth%20Mental%20Health%20Discussion%20Draft.pdf.
U.S. House of Representatives Passes Mental Health Bills
The House passed several mental health bills this week, including the bipartisan Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 by a vote of 402 to 20. The legislation, led by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (RWA), includes amendments for programs to improve suicide prevention, enhance funding and planning for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, provide resources for child and adolescent mental health, as well as behavioral health integration in pediatrics and study the true cost of untreated mental illness.
This legislation would reauthorize the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program, the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Grant, grants for screening and treating maternal depression and related behavioral disorders, grants related to suicide prevention, and grants to support the behavioral health workforce. This measure is expected to be included in Senate negotiations for a comprehensive package to improve access to services for mental health, suicide prevention, and substance abuse prevention.
NSBA urges Congress and the Administration to provide increased funding and additional resources to support local school districts’ efforts to address students’ mental health, safety, and social needs, including programmatic resources to support trauma-responsive and trauma-informed teaching and learning. NSBA urges Congress and the Administration to provide greater and sustained resources for locally determined programs that are critical to school safety, such as school resource officers, school counseling, emergency preparedness and response training, interagency coordination, and a federal school safety technical assistance center to serve as a resource and clearinghouse of federal guidance and training resources. NSBA urges greater and sustained federal resources that expand access to mental health services and support comprehensive wraparound services to schools that include a range of community resources to address safety and intervention. Further, NSBA reaffirms the purpose of the Gun-Free School Zones Act to ensure the safety of our nation’s schoolchildren.
School Meals: USDA Food and Nutrition Services Administrator Testifies Before House Committee
On June 23, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services convened a hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)” with FNS Administrator Cindy Long. During the hearing, Members discussed the Keep Kids Fed Act—the bipartisan legislation to extend school meals waiver authority to the USDA through the 2022-23 school year that was passed by the House later that day.
Ms. Long stated that before the pandemic, about 30 million students participated in school meals programs, including nearly 22 million from low-income families that received these meals free or at a reduced price. Pertinent to the USDA waiver authority, Ms. Long noted that during the 2021-22 school year, FNS surveyed all school districts nationwide to better understand the scale and nature of supply chain issues facing districts, and about 92 percent reported challenges due to supply chain disruptions, such as procuring enough of the foods needed, hiring staff to operate the programs, and accommodating cost increases.
Ms. Long responded to members’ questions about how FNS is engaging with school food authorities to reduce plate waste within school meal programs and to remove any stigma associated with receiving free and reduced-price meals. She added that the USDA’s Farm to School programs, which provide students opportunities to grow and harvest foods, are successful in getting students to try more healthy foods. Video of the hearing is available at https://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/06/16/2022/examining-thepolicies-and-priorities-of-the-us-department-of-agricultures-food-and-nutrition-service.
ED Proposes New Title IX Rule
On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) proposed a set of changes to Title IX regulations—rules that are intended to prohibit sex discrimination at federally-funded schools. The announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX and would expand these protections for transgender students, among a host of other changes that determine how K-12 and postsecondary schools must respond to complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault. The proposal will be published on the Federal Register soon, with ED inviting the public to comment and provide feedback on the proposal within 60 days. In the meantime, an unofficial version of the proposal can be accessed here.
ED Hosts Pathways Event
On Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a virtual event titled “Pathways in Action.” The event convened experts and stakeholders including community colleges, employers, school districts, workforce development boards, and community-based organizations to share perspectives and best practices for how to advance stronger career and college pathways for students. The event also emphasized the various roles that federal agencies have in implementing pathways as well as identifying areas where more improvements are needed to ensure that every learner can benefit from these opportunities. The convening is part of ED’s wider efforts to promote a proposed “Career Connected Hig Schools” initiative as part of its FY23 budget request. More on the event can be found here.
- H.R.8170 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To require elementary schools and secondary schools that receive Federal funds to obtain parental consent before facilitating a child's gender transition in any form, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Banks, Jim [R-IN-3]
- H.R.8150 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to extend child nutrition waiver authority, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Scott, Robert C. "Bobby" [D-VA-3]
New NSBAC Officers
This week the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) board met this week and elected officers. The following officers were elected for a one-year term:
- NSBAC President – Kathy Gebhardt (Colorado – Western Region)
- NSBAC Treasurer – Sonja Mckenzie (Oregon – Pacific Region)
- NSBAC Secretary – Jill Fennessy (Michigan – Central Region)
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of June 24, 2022