Congress Set to Return Next Week
Over the last two weeks, lawmakers in Congress have been in respective states and districts for their annual springtime recess. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return next week to resume work on a host of issues. Chief among these agenda items is continued work on the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget and appropriations process. These efforts formally began with the release of President Biden’s FY23 budget request a few weeks ago. Lawmakers are in the process of analyzing and considering aspects of this request, which will include opportunities for the heads of federal agencies—like U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona—to testify before relevant Congressional committees regarding the contours of the budget request.
Next week, Secretary Cardona is scheduled to testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies about the Biden Administration’s FY23 funding requests for programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. As these efforts get more fully underway, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to advocate for robust investment levels to fully meet the funding needs of the K-12 community.
NCES Publishes New School Pulse Survey
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published results from its School Pulse Panel—a monthly survey authorized during the pandemic to collect data about the impact COVID-19 has had and is having on K-12 schools. The nationally-representative survey sample of nearly 700 K-12 schools across the nation has been an important source of information regarding how states, districts, and schools have navigated various aspects of the pandemic. This most recent publication found, among several other key takeaways, that 52 percent pf public schools experience challenges with obtaining the food and related supplies needed to support school meals programs.
This finding underscores the significant impact ongoing supply chain issues have had on school meal programs and comes after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the extension of flexibilities for these school-based meal programs as part of the FY22 omnibus spending bill. The full survey and related results can be found here.
ARP Summit Next Week
The Department of Education announced plans for a summit that will convene educators, parents and families, philanthropists, government officials, and students to discuss the ways the American Rescue Plan investments are supporting schools and students recover from the pandemic. The summit will highlight best practices that communities should adopt as leaders, educators, and families work together to address the pandemic’s impact on our students. The virtual summit, “From Recovery to Thriving: How the American Rescue Plan is Supporting America’s Students”, will be held Wednesday, April 27. The Department, in partnership with the National Public Education Support Fund, will bring together education leaders, advocates and philanthropic partners to discuss how to help students and schools recover from the pandemic. Registration is available here.
FCC To Open Third Funding Window
The FCC’s third Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program application window will open on Thursday, April 28 and close on Friday, May 13. Eligible schools and libraries will be able to request ECF support for eligible equipment and up to 12 months of services that will be received or delivered between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023 for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons with unmet needs. Given past demand, the third application filing window will likely be the last opportunity for schools and libraries to request funding before the remaining Emergency Connectivity Funds are exhausted.
USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Postsecondary Education
Upward Bound Math and Science Program – As part of the federal TRIO programs, Upward Bound assists students in succeeding in postsecondary education programs. This notice is for UB Math and Science Grants only, which focus on ensuring high school students are prepared for postsecondary programs that will ultimately lead to careers in math and science. The Administration received $1,137,000,000 for the Federal TRIO Program for fiscal year 2022, and $65,928,188 will be used for Upward Bound Math and Science Program awards. Applications are due by June 3, 2022, and further information is available here.
Nutrition Waiver Call to Action
The National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) deployed a Call to Action on the school nutrition waiver issue. It urges U.S. Senators to support the bipartisan “Support Kids Not Red Tape Act” (S. 3979), which would permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant school meal waivers through the 2022-23 school year. As background, this extension was not included in the recent Fiscal Year 2022 consolidated funding bill for the federal government. This authority to the USDA will help school food authorities (SFAs) manage several challenges impacting the delivery of child nutrition services as school districts work through circumstances caused by COVID-19.
Support for Title II Funding
NSBA joined a coalition of education organizations in asking congressional appropriators to provide robust funding for Title II. The letter encouraged appropriators to invest in retaining and recruiting teachers, principals, and other school leaders, as well as improving their practice by providing $3 billion for the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of April 22, 2022