Lawmakers Still Seeking a Path Forward on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget
Last autumn, Congressional lawmakers were unable to find agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22) which began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, Congress has passed a series of short-term funding extensions of current fiscal year 2021 funding levels to continue federal government operations past this date. The most recent of these measures, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire on February 18. To avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for programs like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), lawmakers have continued to negotiate a longer-term funding package to cover the remainder of FY22.
Despite the need for full-year funding, the pathway forward for lawmakers to complete work on FY22 funding remains unclear. Yesterday, January 13, the top four lawmakers in Congress responsible for appropriations formally met for the first time since last November. These appropriations leaders emerged from the meeting calling the talks “constructive” and striking a tentatively optimistic tone regarding the likelihood of a full-year FY22 funding bill. As these efforts get more fully underway, NSBA’s advocacy team will work with Congress to ensure that the FY22 appropriations process meets the significant funding needs of the K-12 education community.
Senate HELP Committee Advances CTE Nominee
On Thursday, January 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee re-considered the nominations of several Biden Administration nominees, including Amy Loyd, to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE). While the HELP Committee approved Loyd similarly last year, the full Senate did not formally confirm her prior to the end of the first session of the current 117th Congress. As a consequence, President Biden was required to re-nominate Loyd for this position in the new year. Following a short discussion, the committee approved Loyd’s nomination by voice vote, advancing her for consideration by the full Senate sometime in the near future.
USDA Increases School Meal Reimbursement Rates
Late last Friday, January 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an increase of school meal reimbursement rates which the Department estimates will provide $750 million in additional funding for school meal programs during the upcoming year. Specifically, USDA is now providing 22% more for school lunches—about 25 cents per lunch— than under normal circumstances. More information on the changes can be found here.
FCC Launches Seventh Wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments
On Monday, January 10, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a seventh wave of funding commitments totaling over $361 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 802 schools, 49 libraries, and 8 consortia to receive nearly 654,000 internet-capable devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. More information on the announcement can be found here.
USED Promotes Full-Service Community Schools
On Wednesday, January 12, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released proposed rules and related definitions for a competitive grant program to support Full-Service Community Schools. USED describes this grant program as providing “. . . support for the planning, implementation, and operation of full-service community schools that improve the coordination, integration, accessibility, and effectiveness of services for children and families, particularly for children attending high-poverty schools, including high-poverty rural schools.” The Department is seeking comments and input from the public regarding this proposal. Since 2010, the Full-Service Community Schools competitive grant program has supported 55 communities across the nation. Comments are due back to USED no later than February 11, 2022.
USED Issues Guidance on Federal Funds to Support Afghan and Other Newcomer Students
On January 14, the U.S. Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to Chief State School Officers detailing information about federal funds and resources available to support Afghan children and their families, who have recently arrived or may be arriving soon to states and school districts across the country. In addition to guidance regarding the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on recently arrived children, this letter addresses how funds under Title I, Part A; Title III, Part A; Title IV, Part A; and Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can be used by states and schools to support recently arrived students. Additional information is available here.
- H.R.6380 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To direct the Secretary of Education to establish a grant program to make grants to the parents of students enrolled in elementary schools or secondary schools that, for any reason related to COVID-19, are failing to provide in-person instruction for each enrolled student for each school day of school year 2021-2022, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Davis, Rodney [R-IL-13]
- H.R.6371 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To address the needs of individuals with disabilities within the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Sponsor: Rep. Dingell, Debbie [D-MI-12]
- H.R.6357 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Afterschool Meals Act of 2022 Sponsor: Rep. Brown, Shontel M. [D-OH-11]
- S.3471 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A bill to address the needs of individuals with disabilities within the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Sponsor: Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of January 14, 2022