School Infrastructure Update
The timeline for a deal has moved up as Senate Majority Leader Schumer has set a deadline of Wednesday for the release of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Schools are not expected to be funded through it, although there may be some money for electrifying school buses and removing lead service lines.
It is still unknown as to whether school infrastructure (meaning direct funding to school districts for new infrastructure) will be included in the Democrat Reconcilliation package. We are privately hearing that instead of the $100-130 billion we have been asking for over the past 4 years, the number may be closer to 10 billion. There is still time to pressure Democrats to include schools in the reconciliation package, so if you haven’t reached out recently to your Senators about this, please do!
Bills on K-12 Funding and Discrimination Move Forward
Thursday was a busy day on Capitol Hill, as two committees held contentious mark-ups on K-12 issues and funding. The House Education and Labor Committee voted to pass a bill that would create a competitive grant program to incentivize districts to de-segregate schools. This bill, the Strength in Diversity Act, is one that AASA supports.
The second bill would give students and parents the right to bring Title VI discrimination claims based on the disparate impact of school policies as if those policies had been written to be intentionally discriminatory. It would also require each district to have a Title VI coordinator. AASA does not support this bill.
A Republican substitute amendment to the Title VI bill would have barred federal funding from supporting instruction that made assumptions, assigned characteristics, or separated students or teachers based on race, color, or national origin. This vote focused on Critical Race Theory is the first vote on this contentious topic on Capitol Hill and was defeated by Democrats and supported by Republicans.
The House Appropriations Committee also met to deliberate on the House Labor-HHS-Education funding bill. The bill passed only with Democrats voting in favor of it and would represent a huge increase in annual federal spending on schools, as it more than doubles the size of the Title I program and provides a substantial increase to IDEA. This Education Week story
provides a good outline of the funding. House Leadership has indicated that the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be on the floor of the House of Representatives in two weeks.
It is critical that we have support for this unprecedented funding jump for education. Make sure to reach out to your members of Congress using the AASA Advocacy App and let them know you support this critical increase in Title I and IDEA.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
USED Releases New Title IX Guidance on 2020 Regulations
On July 20, OCR released a Questions and Answers resource
explaining how OCR interprets schools’ obligations under the 2020 amendments to the Title IX regulation.
The 2020 amendments remain in effect while OCR’s comprehensive review of Title IX actions is ongoing, and the Q&A aims to assist schools, students, and others by highlighting areas in which schools may have discretion in their procedures for responding to reports of sexual harassment.
The Q&A includes an appendix that responds to schools’ requests for examples of Title IX procedures that may be adaptable to their own circumstances and helpful in implementing the 2020 amendments. In addition, the guidance clarifies the steps that districts can take to address and remediate harassment that does not meet the new “severe, pervasive and objective” standard.
USED Releases Application for Remaining ARP Funds for Homeless Students
USED published the application for states to receive ARP funding related to supporting students experiencing homelessness. The ARP included $800 million in supplemental funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Fund (EHCY), of which $200 million was previously released to states in April. Once received, states will award funds to districts through formula grants based on a combination of the district's Title I allocation and the number of identified homeless children and youth. The funds are intended to support the identification and re-engagement of students in advance of SY21-22.
USED Seeking Input on ESSER Reporting Requirements
A newly published notice from USED requests comments by August 31 on annual ESSER reporting requirements, specifically related to how SEAs and LEAs are spending their funds. The Department set an initial reporting deadline of February 10, 2022, for the period of October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, and asks SEAs to report how much funding they allocated for various activities, including implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing lost instructional time; mental health services and supports; and early childhood education program expansion or enhancement.
- The notice is available here
- Reporting requirements are here
USED Releases ARP Supplemental Special Education Funding
On July 1, USED announced the release of more than $3 billion in ARP funding to states to support IDEA grant programs for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. This tranche of funds was allocated to supplement IDEA’s three major formula grant programs, including $2.6 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to States for children and youth with disabilities aged 3 through 21; $200 million for IDEA Part B Preschool Grants for children with disabilities aged 3 through 5; and $250 million for IDEA Part C Grants for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Read the press release.