Last night the House passed a Continuing Resolution that will fund the government until March 11. It will now go to the Senate where it is expected to pass. We have heard from both parties that they are close to an agreement on full FY22 appropriations but you never know. We continue to oppose CRs and encourage Congress to fulfill its constitutional obligation and fund the government.
We continue to advocate for an extension of USDA’s waiver authority that is currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. We were hopeful it would be included in this last CR but it was not. We have been told that it’s likely to be included in the next spending package but once again – nothing in Congress is guaranteed. There is also a standalone bill that would extend the authority which may be easier than adding to the politics of a spending package. We continue to look at all possible solutions.
Transitional nutrition standards
Also at USDA – On Friday, they issued “transitional standards” for milk, sodium, and whole grains for school years 22-23 and 23-34.
· Allows sale and offering of flavored 1% milk
· 80% of the weekly grains must be whole grain-rich
· Sodium Target 1 for SY22-23 and 1A for SY23-24 which is a 10% reduction for school lunches
These transitional standards are in place while USDA works with stakeholders to strengthen meal standards through a new rulemaking for the longer term. The longer-term standards will be based on a comprehensive review of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, and effective starting in the school year 2024-2025.
The Dept. continues to encourage districts to use ARP funds to address staff shortages. They have released numerous resources here.
AASA submitted our comments
on the 2021-2022 CRDC collection that will hit districts in January 2023. We urge USED to consider the burden of this ask and ensure that the information being requested is “need to know”.
Head Start Vaccine Mandate
—Went into effect on January 31 for the states in which it applies. Michigan has filed suit challenging it and Virginia is expected to soon. AASA and NHSA sent a letter
yesterday to Secretaries Cardona and Becerra asking for further guidance on the mandate, especially when it comes into direct conflict with state and local regulations. In the letter, we outlined specific examples where school districts and Head Start partners are facing issues and underscored the potential damage this mandate could have on those partnerships.
DOT – Extended waiver to allow 3rd parties to administer skills and knowledge tests through June 22, 2022. But have been told the next extension will cover the full school year
The past administration proposed creating an endowment for the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Program but was never passed. Now that Congress is focusing less on the pandemic, it may be time to revisit this proposal to provide more security and stability to the program and the counties that are impacted. Additionally, we must ensure equitable distribution of funds that go towards Cardona’s priorities and make sure rural districts are not competing against each other for the same pot of funds.