NREA Weekly Updates: April 15th, 2022

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Can’t Miss Education Conferences in 2022...We Made the List!
Can’t Miss Education Conferences in 2022...We Made the List!
Like many of these conferences, this list hasn’t been the same for the last few years. Rampant cancellations, breakneck pivots, and restricted gatherings have forced conferences and events to reinvent themselves in order to continue bringing people and ideas together. It seems that we are looking towards a brighter future, perhaps one that is even better than before, giving voice and access to hundreds of thousands of new educators and edleaders.
Historically our team has spent a lot of time traveling to conferences around the country to learn with and from experts, facilitate sessions, and cover various conference happenings. Throughout our travels, we continue to curate and update a list of our favorites that we think everyone should attend.

October 20th & 21st, 2022 Green Bay, Wisconsin

Like always, the Rural Schools Conference has been designed to create an environment for collaboration and innovation with a diverse community that includes, national experts, K–12 and higher education practitioners, leading researchers, policymakers, and philanthropic leaders. The goal is to help communities innovate and leverage local assets to create meaningful learning experiences for rural students.
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2021 National Rural Teacher of the Year shares prestigious award with colleagues, students: "Their fingerprints are all over this"
2021 National Rural Teacher of the Year shares prestigious award with colleagues, students: Their fingerprints are all over this
Laurie Smith will talk about her 2021 National Rural Teacher of the Year Award, but there are two things all inquirers should take note of before slipping off I-80 somewhere west of Kearney and heading north to Sumner.
First, and for the sake of perspective, foremost, Smith doesn’t necessarily view the award as hers, per se. She doesn’t see much use for such a prestigious honor without anybody to share it with, and she's convinced none of this would have happened without the people around her.
“This isn’t my award, it’s a lot of people’s award,” she said. “And it’s not about me. It’s about what people have poured into me.”
Secondly, you’re not leaving without taking the tour, a jovial and interactive joyride through the many levels, new and old, of an S-E-M building that blends a heavy dose of history with a compass pointing towards the future. Smith leads the tour, weaving a path of anecdotes one compiles over 14 years of teaching the fourth-grade under the same roof.
“I’ve never felt like I’m going to work,” Smith says, leaving no doubt she’s telling the truth. “I’m going to school. Every morning, I’m going to school with my daughter.”
NREAC April Call Notes Wednesday, April 13, 2022
FY23 Appropriations
President Biden released his FY23 budget proposal on March 28. Including, once again, significant investments in education funding. The budget includes $88.327 billion in funding for the Department of Education, an $11.9 billion or 15.6% increase over FY2022.
The largest increases in the USED budget request are proposed for the core programs –
·      $36.5 billion Title I. The request proposes $20.5 billion in discretionary funding for Title I, which is an increase of $3 billion or 17.1% above FY22 and $16 billion in mandatory funding. However, mandatory funding for Title I is unlikely to advance through the annual appropriations process.
·      $16.3 billion ($3.3 billion increase) for IDEA,
·      $1 billion to increase specialist school staff including counselors, nurses, school psychologists
·      Doubling the maximum Pell Grant
·      Congress has a lot to do but is currently in recess until April 18 for the House and April 22 for the Senate.
·      Supplemental COVID Package--$10 billion deal was announced by the Senate last Monday but then quickly dissolved as Senators continue to disagree on the package’s “claw-back” of other COVID relief funds.
·      FY23 Appropriations—So far, so not good. The House and Senate have not made any movement toward proposals.
·      Build Back Better 2.0—There are rumors that Senators are working on a reconciliation package to address Democrats’ priorities that Senator Manchin will also support. No details have yet been released.
·      Child Nutrition Waivers—We continue to advocate for an extension of the waivers. Senator Stabenow and Murkowski introduced the Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act which would extend the waivers through the next school year. Reps Spanberger and Fitzpatrick introduced a similar bill back in February. This is a good sign, but we remain cautiously optimistic.
The Biden Administration announced a Joint Task Force between U.S. ED and HHS to improve the provision of health services in schools. Specifically, in the coming months, the Departments plan to provide additional technical assistance, resources, and support that will
(1) provide guidance on the federal funding available for school-based physical and behavioral health services, including how Medicaid can support the delivery of these services;
(2) help reduce the federal administrative burden for states and localities, including local educational agencies, and barriers to the provision of school-based physical and behavioral health services; and
(3) improve and strengthen access to physical and behavioral health services.
Extended the “under the hood” waiver until June 30, 2022.

EPA Clean School Bus Program
As part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law in 2021, the EPA was granted $5 billion over 5 years to encourage the electrification of school bus fleets. The EPA is in the process of beginning to roll out the $1b that is available to districts, contractors, and tribes over the next few months and they released a quick PowerPoint presentation that details the basics of the rebate program.
First, the program funding is divided into two halves: zero-emission buses and alternative-fueled buses. Districts can apply for rebates for either program as long as they are replacing current diesel-fueled school buses. Second, the application process will prioritize bus rebates for districts in high needs school districts and rural and low-income areas. Third, they plan to open the application window in late April and districts will have 3 months to apply for rebates, but there are steps you can take now to get your application ready for the portal.
Heather highlighted some specific points to keep in mind while thinking about electric buses in rural communities including a backlog of vehicles and ensuring that districts work with community partners to get charging stations outside of schools.
Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure
On April 4, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy-efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design. Of particular interest, the plan includes an amazing toolkit listing all the financial resources in various federal agencies that districts can utilize to make improvements to school infrastructure and transportation.
The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure will:
Invest in More Efficient, Energy-Saving School Buildings: The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a $500 million grant program for schools that will lower energy costs, improve air quality and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning.
Improve Classroom Air Quality through the American Rescue Plan: The Administration is supporting states, school districts, and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs—like repairing, upgrading, or replacing ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air-cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning.
Clean Air in Buildings Challenge
The Biden administration, in conjunction with the EPA, released a call to action titled the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which highlights a range of recommendations and resources available for improving ventilation and indoor air quality, which can help to better protect the health of building occupants and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. The call to action included guidance principles and best practices to assist building owners and school administrators with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants indoors.
Key actions outlined in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge include:
·      Create a clean indoor air action plan,
·      Optimize fresh air ventilation,
·      Enhance air filtration and cleaning, and
·      Conduct community engagement, communication, and education.
PSLF Template
Last year, the Department of Education (USED) issued a Limited Time Waiver to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and help those who qualify to get closer to forgiveness. So far, more than 70,000 individuals have already received full forgiveness due to these changes. Anyone who has federal student loans and is employed full-time by a school district qualifies for the program.
However, action may be needed in order to take advantage of the waiver before it expires on October 31, 2022. AASA has created a template for district leaders to share with their staff that explains the new changes to the program and outlines what they must do to participate.
Additional Notes:
For FY23 Appropriations, additional items to keep an eye on Title II—ensuring level funding or increases. It is especially important for rural areas since it provides so much flexibility. Additional focus on increases for REAP, not other set-asides or competitive grants.
On Tuesday, May 3 at 12:30 PM EDT (9:30 AM PDT), join expert analysts from Future Design School and unpack emerging education trends analyzed in The Future of Education Report 2022, including:
- Developing and measuring critical competencies
- Creating a future-ready Portrait of a Graduate
- Implementing personalized inquiry and individualized progression
- Rethinking assessment

During this exclusive webinar, NREA members will gain access to exclusive research and insights on how schools are shifting to address the skills gap and explore inspiring case studies from around the world.

Register here:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a long history of inspiring American students to reach for the stars. By engaging students in real-life design challenges, teachers provide learning opportunities that have lifelong impacts. NASA’s Artemis mission is inspiring students, in partnership with LEGO Education, by offering a free Build to Launch Curriculum to schools nationwide, giving students a chance to learn from and interact with our nation’s top aeronautics leaders as they progress towards the first launch in 2022. This exciting mission offers students meaningful, hands-on experiences that aim to inspire the STEM workforce of the future. Please join the U.S. Department of Education and NASA to learn more about the Artemis mission, their collaboration with LEGO Education, and how to spark joy in your classrooms.
Discovery Education
Discovery Education
On behalf of Discovery Education and our guest speakers, thank you to those who were able to join us for our April Equity Talks! For those who could not join you can refer to the materials below to take advantage of the discussion last week.

Here are three takeaways from our conversation about rural education:
1. To put students at the center, always ask questions first.
This shows a commitment to school and community culture while building equity and appreciation for multiple perspectives.
2. Build a community of support that extends beyond school walls.
Host virtual events, set up carpools, or connect a network of partners to engage educators and families on a granular level.
3. Keep the conversation going.
Celebrate successes, encourage collaboration, and meet challenges for rural communities—like access to broadband, assets, leadership—with clarity and honesty.
If you'd like to revisit our last session or share it with your colleagues, here are two ways:
Listen to your favorite podcast player, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

More than ever, teacher turnover is a critical problem within schools and districts. Research shows younger teachers - especially those early in their careers - are most likely to leave the profession altogether. A plan to onboard and support new teachers and paraprofessionals needs to be at the forefront of every administrator conversation going into a new school year.
Join BetterLesson - and industry experts - to kickstart these conversations in a bite-size webinar series from May 3rd - 12th. Hear from speakers Michael McDowell, Trudy Arriaga, and more about inspiring alignment with district goals, focusing on equity and curriculum, finding supportive resources and tools to build success in year one, and learning differentiated approaches to supporting educators throughout a school year.



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