President Signs Spending Bill to Fund Federal Government Thru Sept. 30

U.S. CapitolLast week Congress avoided a possible shutdown of the federal government when it approved and sent to President Trump a consolidated appropriations bill (H.R. 244) to fund public education and other federal programs throughout the remainder of federal Fiscal Year 2017, which runs through Sept. 30. The so-called “omnibus” bill (H.R. 244) was passed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 309-118 and by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 79-18.  It was signed into law by President Trump on May 5.

Overall, in the education area, the FY 2017 omnibus bill, makes net cuts of about $1.1 billion, but provides a more than a $1 billion increase compared with comparable 2016 funding levels for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, Impact Aid, and student support programs under Title IV (ESSA). The text of the bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education is available here.

The budget measure cuts a programTitle IIused by many Wisconsin school districts the help hire and train teachers.  Known officially as the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, Title II grants pay for teacher professional development, or help districts reduce class sizes. The measure signed by the President cuts Title II by $294 million, or 12.5 percent.

Surprisingly, however, several budget line items get a boost, including a program known  as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds before- and after- school programs.  That program has been marked for elimination by President Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal.

The Senate Appropriations Committee posted a summary of the bill’s provisions affecting education funding. Here is an excerpt from that summary:

“The bill supports the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which shifts significant responsibility, control, and accountability for schools back to states and local school districts.

  • Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies – $15.5 billion, a $550 million increase above FY2016, including $450 million from the consolidation of the School Improvement Grants program. This funding level is $447 million more than the level included in ESSA for FY2017, and will help states in the first full year of implementation as responsibility and accountability for schools shifts to states and school districts.  Title I provides basic and flexible funding to low-income school districts and allows states, local school districts, and schools to decide how to best use limited resources to improve student outcomes.
  • Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $400 million for this new formula block grant to help support activities to provide students with a well-rounded education, ensure safe and supportive learning environments, and use technology to improve instruction. This represents a $122 million increase over the combined FY2016 funding levels for programs eliminated to create this new formula block grant.
  • IDEA Grants to States – $12 billion for grants to states under part B of the IDEA, a $90 million increase above FY2016, to support special education services for children with disabilities.
  • Impact Aid – $1.33 billion, an increase of $23 million above FY2016. Impact Aid provides flexible support to local school districts impacted by the presence of federally owned land and activities, such as military bases.  The bill rejects the previous Administration’s proposed elimination of this federal property program, and instead includes a $2 million increase for the program.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers – $1.2 billion appropriation, with a $25 million increase. (2% increase in the program).
  • Charter Schools – Funding to charter schools would increase by 3%, or $9 million to $342 million.
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth – Funding for homeless children and youth increases by 10% under the proposal to $77 million.”