Federal Update: NSBA Urges Congress to Reauthorize ESEA

From the National School Boards Association (NSBA):

NSBA Urges Congress to Reauthorize ESEA

NSBA and nine national education organizations urged Congress to complete the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to send a final bill to the President by the end of this year.  The groups forwarded a letter to Chairman John Kline (D-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, which stressed the importance of a modernized law that will “ultimately focus on delivering the high-quality education that all our children deserve.”

The coalition letter states that, “We know that Congress has a busy agenda this Fall, but Congress must not lose focus on the needs of our nation’s students.  ESEA re-authorization cannot wait.”

Continuing Resolution for Federal Funding Prevents Government Shutdown

As of October 1 (which is the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016), Congress has not passed a final Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill for K-12 education programs and the U.S. Department of Education.  Instead, Congress approved a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to maintain federal operations and prevent a government shutdown. The legislation continues funding for programs and services until December 11, 2015 and maintains the existing spending cap put into place by the Budget Control Act of 2013, thus reflecting the sequester budget caps that force across-the-board cuts to education and other federal programs.  Appropriations Committee leaders hope to approve final legislation before the December 11 expiration of the CR.

Congressional leaders have begun discussions to avert another full-year sequester that could result in across-the-board budget cuts throughout FY2016. The most recent sequester occurred in FY2013, which affected school districts by imposing a $2.5 billion reduction to education programs including Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, and the Impact Aid program that provides funding to school districts with untaxed trust lands, military installations, and other federal properties.

“This is a responsible measure that prevents a harmful government shutdown, while allowing time for a larger budget agreement to be reached, and time to complete the full-year Appropriations work for 2016,” said House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).  “But now, with progress stalled, it is clear that all sides must come together to find some sort of agreement that addresses our current fiscal situation in a comprehensive way.”

In a related matter regarding the continuance of federal funds for school meal programs, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act – the most recent reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act – expired on September 30,  and joins a long list of education-related authorizations that are overdue for renewal. Fortunately, school children will continue to receive school meals as long as federal funds are available, which the passage of the CR addressed yesterday.

NSBA advocates for a final bill that sustains investments for key education programs.  As Congress works to finalize a stop-gap funding measure to prevent a federal government shutdown, NSBA urges swift action regarding a Continuing Resolution and an ultimate solution that sustains federal investments in Impact Aid and other education priorities that make a difference in the lives of our students.

Election Date Set to Replace House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the election to replace him as Speaker will take place on October 8.  This announcement comes after Boehner last Friday officially resigned from Congress effective at the end of October.  Speaker Boehner served as the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee for five years and shepherded the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.  “That’s the code I’ve always lived by: if you do the right things for the right reasons, the right things will happen.  And I know good things lie ahead for this House and this country,” said Speaker Boehner,  “It’s been an honor to serve in this institution.”