AASA Statement on Inclusion of $300 Million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund in the Build Back Better Act

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AASA Statement on Inclusion of $300 Million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund in the Build Back Better Act

On November 29, AASA joined 46 education and library organizations in a statement on the inclusion of $300 million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) in the Build Back Better Act. While we welcome this investment, more funds are needed to ensure that the approximately 6 million home broadband connections, created and funded through ECF dollars, do not go dark when ECF funding runs out. The statement calls on Congress and the Administration to provide additional funding so that the ECF program can continue its important work of keeping our nation’s K-12 students, educators, and library patrons connected to learning.

See full statement and the list of signatories here.

Share YOUR Emergency Connectivity Fund - Homework Gap Success Story!

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Share YOUR Emergency Connectivity Fund - Homework Gap Success Story!

Are you using the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) to provide devices and internet service to your students at home? AASA is proud to be collaborating with Common Sense to highlight your story!

As you know, the ECF was created to help educators provide connectivity to their students during the pandemic, but students’ need for connectivity will not disappear when the pandemic ends. By sharing your stories, you’ll help us highlight this ongoing need. 

Please share your stories here: https://forms.gle/j7otwTAqRApkZ2JDA, or connect with us directly by emailing dgarner@commonsense.org. Thank you!

If you have a great story or anecdote that would you like help in crafting as a quick blog post or update you can use with your community or elected officials, just let us know by contacting Noelle Ellerson Ng (nellerson@aasa.org). 

ED Announces Data Items for New CRDC Collection

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ED Announces Data Items for New CRDC Collection

Districts - brace yourselves. The new Civil Rights Data Collection will likely be hitting your inboxes in January for the first time in 3 years. And that’s not all: for the first time ever you will have to report data two years in a row. The first data collection, which was created right as Secretary DeVos came into office is going to have some interesting new requests which include information like bullying on the basis of religion, data on the number and type of sexual assaults, and other data points that were of interest to the DeVos Administration. In contrast, the Cardona Administration announced this week that it has proposed a very different set of data (including throwing out some of the DeVos era data requests and reinstating ones that the DeVos Administration removed) for districts to collect in 2022.

At a practical level, the back and forth in the number and scope of requests renders some of the data collected for the first time (as well as skipped) fairly invalid. As we are fond of saying "garbage in—means garbage out". But more significantly, the basis for this data collection by OCR is that it’s essential for monitoring compliance with key civil rights laws. But with this massive data request it seems that the data necessary to monitor compliance truly varies by who is leading the agency and their desire to have data that backs up policies they have enacted or plan to enact. This is both unfortunate and inappropriate since these decisions place a significant burden on overwhelmed district personnel.

While the 2020-2021 collection under the DeVos Administration reduced the total number of data points reported by 22%, the Cardona Administration will increase the data collection burden by 47.5% for the 2022 collection. AASA wants to make sure that students' civil rights are protected, but we are beginning to strongly question whether this collection achieves that goal or whether it is time to take a more aggressive approach in determining what is statutorily collected by CRDC every year and what is being done with the data they are collecting. 

Guest Blog Post: AASA Learning Recovery & Redesign Guidance

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Guest Blog Post: AASA Learning Recovery & Redesign Guidance

Today’s guest blog post comes from AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech.

School districts across the nation are facing an unprecedented challenge in School Year 2021-22: how to effectively and equitably recover from the impacts of COVID-19 while still navigating an ongoing pandemic. At the same time, this moment also presents unprecedented opportunities: how to best use the mandate for change and significant new federal resources to also redesign toward a more student-centered, equity-focused, and future-driven approach to public education.

To help our members at this critical time, we are excited to share the first installments of the AASA Learning Recovery & Redesign Guidance, which identifies four Guiding Principles that should show up across your plans and that can inform any revisions you make. This and additional, forthcoming resources have been developed in collaboration with the AASA American Rescue Plan Committee, the AASA Learning 2025 Network, and our partners at EducationCounsel

Specifically, school district recovery and redesign plans should:

  1. Plant SeedsAs you address immediate needs (“fill holes”), you should seek ways to also begin or accelerate shifts toward your long-term vision (“plant seeds”). 
  2. Center EquityEnsure all students get the support they need to thrive, especially those most impacted by the pandemic, and redesign any systems that create or perpetuate inequities. 
  3. Use & Build KnowledgeTo maximize your chances of success, start with what is known and then learn and improve as you go.
  4. Sustain Strategically — Plan carefully for the end of these supplementary funds or risk going over a “fiscal cliff.”

Clicking on each of those links will open a corresponding two-page Self-Assessment Tool that you, your teams, and/or other stakeholders can use to pause, reflect, and identify ways to improve. Especially with summer 2022 and SY22-23 planning around the corner, this is the time to reflect on your initial plans. Ask yourself:

  • Are your initial plans responsive to what you now know about student and staff needs? 
  • Are they still feasible given your community’s current conditions, including the state of the pandemic, your local labor market, and other contextual factors that have become clearer over the past several months? 
  • What tweaks to your plans can help you make the most of your federal recovery funds?

We dug into these Guiding Principles and Self-Assessment Tools during an introductory webinar that you can view by clicking here. We hope these initial resources help guide your thinking about how to make the most of your available resources. Please also share any feedback and ideas for what other supports are most needed by clicking here.  

Republicans in Congress Introduce Parents' Bill of Rights Act

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Republicans in Congress Introduce Parents' Bill of Rights Act

On November 16, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Parents' Bill of Rights Act which, according to his statement, would: prohibit nondisclosure agreements concerning curriculum; let parents make copies of classroom material; require schools to have parents opt their children into field trips, assemblies, and other extracurricular activities; and in general require more transparency from school boards and educators concerning things like student records and safety.

The bill would implement cuts in federal funding for districts that repeatedly violate the requirements and allow parents to take legal action against the districts. It is important to note that many aspects of the bill, like school board meetings and financial contracts between districts and external groups, are already subject to existing law that govern open meetings and public records.

On November 17, Republicans on the House Education and Labor Committee introduced a House version of the bill which goes further and requires schools to publicly post curriculum and provide a list of all reading materials available in the school library to parents. Additionally, it requires schools to hold at least two parent/teacher conferences a year with each teacher and get parental consent for any medical examinations or screenings (with the exemption of hearing, vision and scoliosis screenings).

The legislation is not likely to gain traction in Congress but we expect to see similar versions of this bill introduced in state legislatures as the debate over curriculum continues and intensifies.  

Sen. Van Hollen and Rep. Huffman Reintroduce IDEA Full Funding Act

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Sen. Van Hollen and Rep. Huffman Reintroduce IDEA Full Funding Act

Yesterday, the House and Senate both reintroduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, spearheaded by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). Sen. Van Hollen has helped lead legislation to fully fund IDEA since his time in the House of Representatives and has remained committed to its continuance. Congress first funded IDEA in 1975 to ensure that all children, regardless of (dis)ability, would have access to equitable educational opportunities and  committed to covering 40 percent of the additional cost associated with educating students with special needs.

In the 1997 reauthorization, the 40 percent of excess cost was changed to 40 percent of the National Average Per Pupil Expenditure (NAPPE) for every child enrolled in special education. While special education funding has received significant increases over the past 18 years, funding has leveled off and even been cut in recent years. The closest the federal government has come to reaching its 40 percent commitment was 18 percent in 2005. Prior to the pandemic, in fact, the federal share of IDEA had fallen to below 13 percent, leaving state and local education agencies on the hook for covering the chronic and pervasive federal shortfall. According to the National Education Association, the IDEA shortfall last year nationwide was $23.58 billion.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes a $2.5 billion increase for IDEA, bringing the federal share to 15.5 percent. This is a sizeable increase, but even still is not 40 percent of the 40 percent committed by Congress. By enacting the IDEA Full Funding Act, Congress is placed on a 10-year glide path to reach the full 40 percent commitment and thus ensure equitable education for all students. 

Fully funding IDEA is the top federal priority for AASA. Dan Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, joined over 97 national education organizations in support of the legislation, stating, "The IDEA Full Funding Act is a critical first step and the most significant thing Congress can do to honor their commitment to support not only students with disabilities, but all students in K-12 schools."

Read the press release by Sen. Van Hollen here. The full text for the IDEA Full Funding Act can be found here.

 

OSHA Webinar for K12 Stakeholders on Newly Released Vaccine ETS

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OSHA Webinar for K12 Stakeholders on Newly Released Vaccine ETS

The Fifth Circuit Court has placed a temporary stay on the OSHA rule which enjoins the agency from taking any action to enforce it at this time. We will update this post with any developments.

On Friday, November 12, OSHA hosted a webinar for K12 education stakeholders on its newly released Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) related to the vaccine mandate. Access the recording here.

As a reminder, the ETS only to public sector employers in 28 states. Check here to see whether school districts in your state will be impacted by this rule. Employers must comply with many of the requirements within 30 days and begin required testing within 60 days of the November 5, 2021, effective date.

If your school district is impacted, here are the highlights from the webinar:

Required Policy

OSHA’s ETS requires employers who have at least 100 employees to institute either a mandatory vaccine policy or a weekly testing and mask policy. The mandatory vaccine policy allows for some exceptions, including individuals with a medical delay necessary, medical contraindications, and those legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights laws because they have a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that conflict with the vaccination requirement.

Policies must be in writing and communicated to employees. OSHA has sample templates for both policies (mandatory vaccines sample/ vaccination or testing sample).

Some exceptions for employees who are not covered by this rule: Employees not reporting to the workplace with other coworkers or customers, working from home, or working exclusively outdoors. If they come in sporadically, they would be covered when they come in—therefore tested within 7 days prior to entering the workplace.

Determining Vaccination Status

Employers must require each vaccinated employee to provide acceptable proof of vaccination status, including whether they are fully or partially vaccinated.

Acceptable proof of vaccination status is:

  • The record of vaccination from a healthcare provider or pharmacy;
  • A copy of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card;
  • A copy of medical records documenting the vaccination;
  • A copy of immunization records from a public health, state, or tribal immunization information system; or
  • A copy of any other official documentation that contains the type of vaccine administered, date(s) of administration, and the name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the vaccine(s).
  • If an employee is unable to produce acceptable proof of vaccination, a signed and dated statement by the employee can be accepted.

Record-Keeping/Reporting

Employers must maintain a record of each employee’s vaccination status and keep acceptable proof of vaccination for each employee, along with a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. Employers that have already determined vaccination status prior to the ETS through another form, or proof and retained records, do not have to re-determine the vaccination status of individuals whose fully vaccinated status has been previously documented. In addition, the employer must maintain a record of each test result provided by each employee.

These records and roster are considered employee medical records and must be maintained as such records. They must not be disclosed except as required or authorized by federal law. These records and roster must be maintained and preserved while this section remains in effect.

Employers must also report work-related fatalities and hospitalizations to OSHA—within 8 hours of learning of work-related fatality, and within 24 hours of work-related hospitalization.

Testing Guidelines

Employees who choose not to be vaccinated must be tested once every 7 days. Any tested approved or authorized by the FDA is allowed. Tests that are not acceptable are antibody tests and over-the-counter (OTC) tests that are administered and read by the employee. If an OTC test is proctored by telehealth practitioner or administered by employer, or observed by employer if is acceptable.

Under the ETS, employers do not have to pay the cost associated with testing. However, whether employers can require employees to pay for their own tests will depend on state law and whether testing is offered as a reasonable accommodation. Many states have laws requiring employers to pay the cost of any required medical exams or tests or expense reimbursement laws, which may be implicated.

Removal for Positive Tests

Regardless of vaccination status, employees who test positive for COVID-19 or who are diagnosed with COVID-19 must be removed from the workplace until they meet certain return-to-work criteria. The ETS does not require paid leave for employees who are removed, but acknowledges that other laws may impose such obligations.

Masking Guidelines

Subject to limited exceptions, employers are required to enforce the wearing of masks for those who are unvaccinated when indoors and when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes. Like testing costs, the ETS does not mandate employers to pay for face coverings required by the ETS.

See OSHA’s website for more resources including factsheets, FAQs and more. 

Guest Post: Five Things Superintendents Should Know About Education Finance Equity

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Guest Post: Five Things Superintendents Should Know About Education Finance Equity

This guest blog comes from Bellwether Education Partners’ Alex Spurrier, co-author of Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity — a nine-part series that gives advocates a crash course in the fundamentals of education finance in their states and communities.

Education leaders are likely familiar with school finance policy in their state and its impact on educational opportunities for students. As superintendents, you play an important role as advocates for more equitable state and local finance systems. However, effective school finance advocacy requires a deep understanding of the complicated mechanics of how dollars move from taxpayers to classrooms. And at a time when the capacity of school system leaders is stretched as thinly as ever, it can be difficult for even the most motivated leaders to know where to begin.

To help educators, advocates, and policymakers get up-to-speed on school finance policy, Bellwether Education Partners released Splitting the Bill, a series of nine at-a-glance briefs that serve as a crash course to demystify the complexities and inequities embedded in school finance systems.

Here are five key takeaways for education leaders from the series:

    1.  Most state school funding formulas connect directly with student enrollment and learning needs — but that connection is weaker in some states.

Thirty-six states, along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have what's known as a student-based funding formula. These formulas direct funding to districts based on the number of students they enroll. The vast majority have "weights" to allocate additional funding to support students who have additional learning needs, such as lower-income students, English language learners, and special education students. This way, districts serving students in need of more educational resources should get a bigger share of state funding. 

Not every state follows this approach. In 17 states, funding for districts is based on the anticipated cost of serving their student population (mostly via staffing costs and ratios), while four states provide funding for the cost of specific programming (like transportation and special education).

Student-based formulas offer a better combination of transparency, flexibility, and equity. To learn more about different state funding formula structures, read the third brief in the Splitting the Bill series.

    2.  Many state school finance systems fail to fund schools equitably

State school funding policies typically attempt to account for the different wealth and student learning needs of school districts, but often fall short. These shortcomings can have many sources, from opaque formulas disconnected from student needs to inadequate “weights” to support students with particular learning needs (e.g., low-income students, ELLs, and special education students).

Learn more about some of the biggest equity problems in state education finance systems in the fourth brief in the Splitting the Bill series.

    3.  Property taxes aren't just a major source of funding for schools — they can also be a significant source of inequity

It's no secret that locally generated property taxes are an important source of funding for school systems. But the level of taxable property wealth per pupil can vary wildly from one district to the next — even among districts that share a direct border. And property wealth disparities across districts boundaries are closely related to economic and racial segregation. These disparities create significant challenges for funding equity that some state policies work hard to address, and others do very little about.

Check out how local taxes affect school finance equity in the sixth brief in the Splitting the Bill series.

    4.  Districts' budgetary decisions are an important mechanism for equity

State policy plays a key role in determining the amount of funding that districts receive. At the same time, district leaders and school boards typically have freedom to determine how most dollars are allocated from the central office to schools. Since the vast majority of schools' budgets go to staff salaries and benefits, the way those positions are funded can have major equity implications within a school district.

Unpack different approaches to district budgeting and how they affect equity in the seventh brief in the Splitting the Bill series.

    5.  There's a good chance school funding policy in your state has been challenged in the courts

In many states, problems in state school finance systems have led to litigation that contest either adequacy (enough funding), equity (funding distributed to where it is most needed), or both.

School finance lawsuits can catalyze policy change, but they take time, money, and have no guarantee of improving policy. To learn more about whether school finance lawsuits are an effective tool for your state or community, read the eighth brief of the Splitting the Bill series.

Developing a command of the details within school funding systems can reveal both the benign and malign impacts of different policy choices. Spending on K-12 education makes up the largest share of general fund expenditures for state governments, but there are relatively few people in each state that truly understand how those dollars currently move and, more importantly, how they should move to better serve students.

It’s time for equity-minded education leaders to become more familiar with the wonky details of school finance policy so that they can advocate for funding that meets the needs of the students they serve.

Questions? Contact Partner, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, jennifer.schiess@bellwethereducation.org, and Associate Partner, Alex Spurrier, alex.spurrier@bellwethereducation.org.

 

AASA Advocacy Recap: School Buses, ARP Data Collection, and Title I Fun

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AASA Advocacy Recap: School Buses, ARP Data Collection and Title I Fun

We had a hat-trick of advocacy items in play last week that we didn’t highlight. We’re placing them here for a quick recap and for your reference:

School Transportation Letter: AASA was happy to lead a letter, signed by 12 other national organizations and shared with the Department of Transportation and Capitol Hill, with recommendations aimed at addressing the school bus driver shortage. Read the full letter.

Maintenance of Equity Data Collection Comments:AASA filed comments in response to a USED notice related to data collection for the American Rescue Plan’s Maintenance of Equity provision. In comments closely aligned with those of the Council of Chief State School Officers, AASA expressed concern that USED continues to draft policy and propose data collections that are not based in an understanding of how SEA and LEA data systems operate and uses timelines that are not feasible. We strongly urge the Department to retract or substantially revise the proposed reporting rule as fundamentally incompatible with state and local systems and functionally impossible to implement as proposed.

Title I State Set Aside: In a letter address to appropriators and authorizers, executive directors from a handful of AASA state affiliates weighed in on a proposed change to the state administrative set aside for Title I. Senate FY22 language includes a change that would allow some states to increase the amount of money they set aside from the overall Title I state allocation. The state executives were clear that there is support for the change, so long as "any updates to the small state administrative reservations do not come at the expense of local allocations". Read the full letter.

HHS and ED Outline Steps for School Leaders to Encourage Vaccinations Among Children

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HHS and ED Outline Steps for School Leaders to Encourage Vaccinations Among Children

On November 8, HHS Secretary Becerra and Education Secretary Cardona released a letter to school superintendents and elementary principals asking them to take a series of steps to encourage vaccinations among children, including: 

1. Host a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at Your School(s) 

The CDC, in partnership with HHS and ED, developed resources and an easy-to-follow toolkit for schools to use in standing clinics up. The main responsibilities of a vaccine clinic host are to provide space and lead community engagement; a vaccine provider enrolled in the CDC COVID-19 vaccination program (e.g., a health department, pharmacy, or others in your community) is responsible for storage, handling, and administration of doses. Many providers have scheduling and consent tools that can be shared with parents and families to make sign up as easy as possible.

2. Distribute Information About the COVID-19 Vaccine to All Families with Children Ages Five Through Eleven Years Old

Reach out to all families with children ages five through eleven years old in your school community to provide information from trusted sources about the vaccine, and to help them learn where they can get vaccinated. Education leaders can share this one-page fact sheet, post on social media using these materials, email parents about the importance of getting vaccinated and direct them to the CDC COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens website, and partner with local community-based organizations to reach parents in accessible ways.

3. Hold Conversations with School Communities on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Finally, Secretaries Becerra and Cardona ask that education leaders host community engagements on the COVID-19 vaccines with parents and school communities, in partnership with local pediatricians and other trusted medical voices in their area.

They encourage reaching out to pediatricians, family physicians, hospitals, early care and education programs, other child and family serving organizations, and other medical partners and providers in the community to host these engagements. If needed, leaders may reach out to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or other local medical associations to get connected with a local pediatrician, family physician, or other clinician to invite to participate or speak at vaccine-related events. To invite a pediatrician to speak to your community about the COVID-19 vaccine, reach out to kids1st@aap.org to make a request and share the details of your event.

OSHA Releases the Rule Related to Vaccine Mandate

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OSHA Releases the Rule Related to Vaccine Mandate

On November 4, the Biden administration released its OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS: 2021-23643.pdf (federalregister.gov) that applies to school districts in 28 states. As part of the President’s COVID-19 Action Plan, under the ETS any covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. It also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects. OSHA estimates this rule will save over 6,500 worker lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations during the 6 months after implementation.

To see whether school districts in your state will be impacted by this rule you can check the OSHA website here. If your state is impacted, OSHA has released materials to explain how the rule will impact public sector organizations. 

On Friday, November 12 from 1:00-1:45pm ET, OSHA will host a webinar for education stakeholders with a K-12 focus. Register for that webinar here.

See resources from OSHA on ETS: webinar, FAQ, and additional compliance materials.

CDC Recommends Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11, Will Hold Informational Webinars

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CDC Recommends Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11, Will Hold Informational Webinars

Last night, the CDC recommended emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11 pointing to the need for schools to get back to normal as a major factor in their decision. The recommendation was signed off by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, allowing the vaccine to be administered as early as doses can be distributed. The CDC also created a helpful Key Messages and FAQs document with information about the vaccine process and its safety.

Two weeks prior, the White House detailed a plan stressing how schools would be critical in managing vaccine information and distribution to families. They indicated that FEMA will reimburse states for school-based vaccination efforts, and the administration will coordinate to pair schools with local providers and pharmacies to help with on-site inoculations.

The CDC will be holding two webinars this week discussing the recommendation:

 

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Partner Update: Wednesday, November 3 from 12–12:45pm EST. This meeting will provide information following the Tuesday Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting and will include time for Q/A. You can join that webinar here.
  • Providing an Overview of Recommendations and Clinical Considerations: Thursday, November 4 from 2-3pm EST. You can join that webinar here.

 

Read the statement by the CDC here.

The Advocate November 2021

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The Advocate November 2021

Last week, House Democrats released a new version of the Build Back Better Act following weeks of negotiations. The new package totals $1.75 trillion, down from the original $3.5 trillion proposal. This new version is expected to get approval from the two key Senators who did not support the original price tag: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Most notably for superintendents, the bill includes investments in the educator workforce, school nutrition, childcare and universal pre-K that AASA supports. 

Investments in the Educator Workforce

The package allocates $450 million for educator preparation programs through standalone grant programs, including $112.6 million for “Grow Your Own” programs, $112.2 million for teacher residencies programs, $112.2 million for Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program and $112.2 million for school leadership programs. This is a significant increase for the educator workforce. In FY21, Congress appropriated just $52 million for teacher preparation through teacher quality partnership grants.

Expanded Access to Nutrition Programs

The Build Back Better Act includes a few provisions that will support and expand access to healthy meals. For years 2022 through 2026, the bill makes changes to the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) that will make 8.7 million more children eligible to receive free school meals. Specifically, the bill lowers the CEP threshold from 40% to 25%, increases the ISP multiplier from 1.6 to 2.5, and allows states to opt-in to a statewide CEP in order to provide free meals to all students. These changes are included in AASA’s priorities for the forthcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization and we are excited to see them included in the bill.

In addition to the CEP expansion, the bill creates a national Summer-EBT program for two years which will provide a $65 per child per month benefit to the families of 29 million children in need to purchase food during the summer. It also provides $30 million for school kitchen equipment grants and $250 million for grants to schools to improve the nutritional quality of school meal programs.

Universal Pre-K and Child Care Subsidies

Providing universal pre-K and making childcare more affordable has been a top priority for the Biden Administration. The Build Back Better Act invests $400 billion over 6 years to provide free, high-quality pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds and childcare subsidies for families. Under the plan, families making up to 250 percent of a state’s median income would not have to pay more than 7 percent of their annual income on childcare.

There is no mandate that LEAs provide childcare or universal pre-K options although they can compete with other home-based and private providers if they want to try and expand their program offerings. States will choose to opt-into the programs and commit to spending significant resources. We do not anticipate all states to do this but there are work arounds for localities to receive funds in states that do not participate. Similarly, the requirements for participating and qualifications for educators could pose obstacles for districts. A more comprehensive breakdown of these programs is forthcoming.

The Build Back Better Act is an historic investment in education but notably missing is a critical investment in K-12 school infrastructure. In light of this omission, AASA has called for providing more time to school districts to leverage their American Rescue Plan investment to re-build and construct safer, healthier school environments. If a new federal school construction program is off the table, then districts must have more time to utilize current federal investments to improve school facilities which are essential.

While this deal is quite close to completion, there could still be amendments offered and accepted that would change the funding levels. We will provide updates if anything in the K-12 funding arena is altered.

This information is currently accurate but subject to change as negotiations are still underway and a vote has not yet been scheduled. We will update you on any changes. Support from the key senators is still pending.

Learning Network for School and District Leaders on COVID-19 Testing

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Learning Network for School and District Leaders on COVID-19 Testing

Today, the Department of Education, CDC and The Rockefeller Foundation launched a learning network to support school and district leaders in starting or strengthening screening testing programs.

The network will be a forum to ask questions, hear directly from other school leaders who have done this work, and engage some of the nation’s top experts on technical issues. The series is designed to help schools where they are in setting up testing programs – whether they are just starting or looking to share best practices.

Between now and December 22, the network will host sessions on a new topic each week. Two sessions on the same topic will be provided to accommodate schedules: 

  • Session 1: Starting or growing your testing program and staffing | Nov. 2 & 3
  • Session 2: Designing your testing program in the context of vaccination | Nov. 9 & 10
  • Session 3: Increasing parental buy-in and communications for testing | Nov. 16 & 17
  • Session 4: Contact tracing, data management, and reporting | Nov. 23 & 24
  • Session 5: Running a dual program: school-located vaccination and testing | Nov. 30 & Dec. 1
  • Session 6: Test to stay and close contact testing | Dec. 7 & 8
  • Session 7: Procurement | Dec. 14 & 15
  • Session 8: Summary of lessons learned and best practices shared during the series | Dec. 21 & 22

 More details and registration available here.

Additional resources from The Rockefeller Foundation: Startup Guide for COVID-19 Testing in Schools and FAQ on Testing for Families

AASA Joins Other K-12 Education Groups Urging Revised Guidance on Compensatory Services

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AASA Joins Other K-12 Education Groups Urging Revised Guidance on "Compensatory Services"

AASA joins other K-12 education groups to urge the Department to issue a revised guidance document clarifying the accurate use of the term "compensatory services" and when that term and its use are appropriate in the Return to School Roadmap released by the Department on September 30. We reiterate the distinction between compensatory services and interrupted learning, recovery services, or other terms in use that explain the appropriate statutory/legal process in which IEP teams are currently engaged.

The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) included a memo with a comprehensive review of Section D in the context of the pandemic, school closures and ongoing national circumstances. While helpful, AASA, CASE and other K-12 education groups believe Section D provides a new and incorrectly expanded interpretation of "compensatory services" and is in conflict with applicable case law and the language of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

You can read the full letter here. The CASE memo is available here.

AASA Files Amicus Brief in Carson v. Makin

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AASA Files Amicus Brief in Carson v. Makin

Today, AASA was proud to join NSBA and other education groups in filing an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the case Carson v Makin. This case presents a question of vital importance to school superintendents: whether the free public education available to all residents by their local school boards must include the option of a pervasively religious education or whether innovative methods of providing a secular public education that are necessitated by local district circumstances may lawfully exclude the sectarian alternative. We are not expected to succeed in the case, so the question of how far beyond last year’s Espinoza ruling the Court chooses to go is of greater importance. There is the potential for this case to impact the ability of private religious schools to be eligible for state formula funding as well as other funding that has been traditionally limited to public schools.

You can read about the case here.

 





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