AASA Joins Coalition Letter Supporting Safer Communities Act

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AASA Joins Coalition Letter Supporting Safer Communities Act

It’s a busy week on Capitol Hill, and we are pleased to report that the Senate is now considering the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Following outcries for action from across the country, this legislative package represents a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is fully paid for and follows their previously released bipartisan proposal supported by Senate leaders from both parties and a bipartisan group of 20 Senators. 

In addition to the gun violence prevention pieces, there are significant legislative accomplishments attributable to AASA that are embedded in this package.

First, there is language requiring CMS to issue guidance on an updated school-based Medicaid program reimbursement system that includes taking steps to dramatically reduce the administrative burden on small and rural districts and the creation of a new TA center for districts to utilize to insure they are billing expansively for healthcare services they provide to students. A complete summary of the Medicaid pieces is here

Second, there is increased funding for the STOP School Violence Act grant program, Project AWARE, and $2 billion in new funding for districts to hire mental health professionals and build a pipeline of mental health personnel. While we know this is not the robust funding we need to address the mental health crisis in our schools, this funding is a good start and will meaningfully increase access to these professionals in some school districts.