COVID relief: IRS helps employers wanting to rehire retirees or retain employees after retirement age

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COVID relief: IRS helps employers wanting to rehire retirees or retain employees after retirement age

October 26, 2021

To help address COVID-related labor shortages, the Internal Revenue Service reminded employers last week that they generally will not jeopardize the tax status of their pension plans if they rehire retirees or permit distributions of retirement benefits to current employees who have reached age 59 ½ or the plan's normal retirement age.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers, including public school districts, are looking for ways to encourage retirees to return to the workforce to fill open positions and experienced employees to stay on the job. This is specifically relevant in the context of bus drivers, food service staff, teachers and subs looking to re-enter the workforce.

The IRS created two new FAQs offering guidance to private and public employers who sponsor pension plans for their employees. The Department of Treasury and USED will also be holding two webinars for education leaders and other stakeholders to discuss approaches to addressing school staff labor shortages, including a discussion about these new FAQs:

Webinar 1- Teacher and Substitute Teacher Shortages
When: October 27 at 4 PM EST
To register: Click here

Webinar 2- Staff Shortages (school bus drivers and food service workers)
When: October 28 at 4 PM EST
To register: Click here


Read the full article here.

AASA Joins Coalition Letter on Rescinding Public Charge

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AASA Joins Coalition Letter on Rescinding Public Charge

October 25, 2021

AASA and 84 other national and state organizations sent a letter in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on public charge, urging them to take action in rectifying the harm to children in immigrant families created by the previous public charge rule. Specifically, we highlight how DHS should exclude children’s use of benefits when making a public charge determination for that child’s family member as this can have a significant impact on the family’s ability to utilize any school-based services such as free-and-reduced meals, Medicaid, etc. You can access the letter here.

10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools

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10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools

October 21, 2021

COVID-19 continues to be on the forefront of school administrators' minds as they navigate what the "new normal" is for their districts. AASA asked their members directly about what they believed an efficient testing program would look like when developed. The feedback received was invaluable and the Advocacy team created a handy cheat sheet for 10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools for districts looking to implement a system featuring strong communication, funding ideas and staffing.

Note: Many of the points in this document are highlighted in the Covid-19 Testing in K-12 Settings: A Playbook for Educators and Leaders developed by the Rockefeller Foundation. We strongly encourage AASA members to read the playbook for more detailed strategies and information on COVID testing in schools. 

Please contact Sasha Pudelski at spudelski@aasa.org for any questions.

Senate Releases Draft of FY22 Labor HHS Education Bill

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Senate Releases Draft of FY22 Labor HHS Education Bill

October 20, 2021

Earlier this week, the Senate released its draft FY22 Labor HHS Education bill. Overall, the Senate Appropriations Committee provides a $25.4 billion increase USED (though that number is still $4.4 billion less than the House and President’s budgets). The differences in the Senate bill are spread across programs, and the most noticeable difference between the House and Senate bills is in their overall increase for Title I. The Senate bill increases Title I by $16.6 billion ($3 billion less than the House/President proposals). The Senate bill does not include the $1 billion increase for mental health included in both the House and President’s budgets. The Committee for Education Funding (AASA is a member of the coalition!) put together a handy side by side detailing the House, Senate and President proposals. Other program funding levels in the Senate proposal to note:

  • The Senate rejects the President’s proposal for a shadow Title I equity formula (AASA opposes the proposal)
  • $40 million increase for homeless youth
  • $12 million increase for REAP
  • $100 million increase for Title IV-A
  • $2.6 billion increase for IDEA (aligned with House and President)
  • $50 million increase for CTE

 

 

Important New ED Resource on Mental Health in Schools

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Important New ED Resource on Mental Health in Schools

October 20, 2021

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released a new resource: Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students. This resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood and K–12 schools, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. This resource includes many real-world examples of how the recommendations are being put into action by schools, communities and states across the country.

We encourage superintendents to review the recommendations and examples of how districts of various sizes, needs and locales are implementing some innovative and evidence-based practices for enhancing mental health services for students. In particular, the appendixes also include some information on the many technical assistance centers funded by ED and HHS that stand ready to assist districts in this work. 

Please note that this document is totally different than the DOJ/OCR document issued last week that focuses on the obligation for districts under Section 504 and other federal civil rights laws to provide students with mental health disabilities "an opportunity to learn free of discrimination."

White House Outlines Vaccination Plans For Kids 5-11

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White House Outlines Vaccination Plans For Kids 5-11

October 20, 2021

Ahead of the expected authorization of the COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the Biden administration has announced that shots will be distributed to school-based clinics as well as pediatricians’ offices, pharmacies, and other sites. School superintendents should expect to be contacted by their state departments of health in the coordination of vaccination clinics.

In addition, the White House has 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. They are holding "readiness calls" with states and territories in advance of the expected vaccine authorization.

Read the full details on EdWeek here.

New Report on Teacher Shortages

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New Report on Teacher Shortages

FutureEd and EducationCounsel released a report analyzing the current teacher shortage and offers policy recommendations to help states and schools address the human capital needs. The report, “In Demand: The Real Teacher Shortages and How To Solve Them” argues that despite recent headlines indicating a national shortage, the real teacher shortages lie within key subject areas, geographic locations, and the diversity of the teacher workforce.

Nationwide, states identify shortages in math, special education, foreign languages, and science and only 20% of public-school educators identify as Black, Hispanic or other non-white ethnicities.  Additionally, rural and urban districts that serve a large number of high-need students face significant challenges in attracting and retaining quality teachers.

The report breaks down the reasons for the shortages and provides targeted strategies to address these issues including different models of financial incentives to both teacher candidates during training and teachers working in high-need subjects and geographic areas, and improvements to teacher preparation programs. 

Instead of focusing on increasing the overall number of teachers, the report states, policymakers should have a more nuanced response to the problem to avoid exacerbating the existing inequities of access to effective educators.