February 28, 2019

(ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

This Week in AASA Advocacy: Letter on House Infra Bill AND the 2019 Leg Agenda

Two items of note this week:

  • AASA Releases Final 2019 Legislative Agenda: Drafted by the AASA executive committee in January, and revised and ratified by the AASA governing board at the National Conference for Education in LA earlier this month, the final legislative agenda is available for your reference. This document represents the organization's federal legislative priorities and is used by the policy and advocacy team as 'marching orders' on Capitol Hill. Join us in DC in July for our annual advocacy conference for your chance to weigh in on these important issues.
  • House Education & Labor Committee Passes Infrastructure Bill: Earlier this week, the committee passed the Rebuild America's School Act, which would provide about $100 billion for school infrastructure, through a combination of $70 billion in direct federal spending for renovation, repairs and modernization, and $30 billion in tax-credit bonds. AASA sent a letter of support (with our friends at AESA). The path forward is far from clear: this bill merely authorizes the funds; Congress would need to actually provide the funding via annual appropriations. Given that FY20 discussions will require a sizable funding cap increase to merely preserve level funding, the likelihood of Congress finding another $100 billion is really limited. Stay tuned!

February 25, 2018

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AASA Joins Letter on Gun Violence Research

Earlier this month,  AASA joined 166 national, state, and local medical, public health, and research organizations in asking the House and Senate to provide $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct public health research into firearm morbidity and mortality prevention. You can read the letter here

February 22, 2019

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AASA Releases New Medicaid Report-- Leads Letter to CMS

Two Medicaid in schools related pieces to share in one blog post! The first is that yesterday we released our brand new report called Structural Inefficiencies in the School-Based Medicaid Program Disadvantage Small and Rural Districts and Students, which describes how immediate Congressional action could ensure school districts of all sizes can deliver healthcare services more efficiently and to a greater number of students. We were thrilled the report reflects the viewpoints of over 750 school leaders in 41 states and their experience participating in the school-based Medicaid program in their states. 

At a time when we have an uptick in children who lack health insurance coverage and a surge in children coming to school with unaddressed mental health needs, there is an urgency to improve the reimbursement stream for school-based Medicaid programs so
schools can deliver more services to more students. We believe the passage of federal legislation, “The Improving Medicaid in Schools Act” would allow states to implement a uniform, cost-based reimbursement methodology that would ensure districts of all sizes can be reimbursed by Medicaid for meeting the healthcare needs of their students regardless of their administrative capacity and student population. The proposal leverages an existing and proven process for Medicaid claiming that ensures strong accountability measures are still in place, but that will simultaneously reduce the burden
on State Medicaid Agencies and insurance companies
to manage and respond to a high volume of Medicaid transactions from districts.

You can read the report and executive summary at aasa,org/Medicaid/

Related to this report, AASA and Mental Health America led a letter signed by over 40 national education, health and child welfare organizations to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare asking that they provide greater opportunities for districts to share the barriers they are facing in participating in the Medicaid program.  

 

February 19, 2019

(E-RATE, ED TECH) Permanent link

E-Rate Funding Remains Available, Underutilized!

As the largest education technology program in the country, the Schools and Libraries program (E-rate) has transformed Internet access in our nation’s schools. However, with digital learning opening new opportunities for students and teachers, schools and libraries must continue to utilize the program to prepare their networks for the future -- and we want to help.

Before 2015, a large portion of the funding was reserved for subsidizing school phone lines; little funding was set aside to support schools with upgrading their internal networks. In 2014, AASA played a lead role in modernizing the E-rate program, advocating for key changes such as: 

 

  1. A policy update to make the program broadband-centric; and
  2. A critical vote to increase the funding cap to ensure that applicants could access meaningful funding both Category 1 (internet access) and Category 2 (internal networking).

Since the changes, 83% of schools accessed Category 2 funding in 2018 (up from 15% in 2015) and twenty million more students have access to the minimum connectivity needed to take advantage of digital learning (Source: EducationSuperHighway). Still, more than $1 billion in E-rate funding is left on the table each year. 

With the possibility that Category 2 funding may expire after this funding year, now is the time for districts that have funding remaining to apply.  To understand your available Category 2 budget, find your school district on Compare & Connect K-12, or visit the USAC budget tool

If your district has remaining funds, we encourage you to meet with your technology staff to make sure you can take advantage before they expire. With the E-rate 471 filing window set to close on March 27, 2019, school districts must get started now to meet all required deadlines. 

Stay tuned for more posts with E-rate updates and free resources to ensure all students have access to the broadband needed to take advantage of digital learning.

 

February 14, 2019

(ED FUNDING) Permanent link

FY19 Appropriations: Is the end in sight? Will Congress and the President avoid another shutdown?

Up against the clock of a short-term federal funding deal that expires on February 15, it appears Congress has reached consensus on a compromise bill to fund the remaining portions of the federal government, a middle ground on the contentious border security debate, and avoided another shutdown. The Senate is expected to consider and adopt the proposal today, and the House will follow suit. It is anticipated—but not certain—the President will sign the deal. He has indicated, but not confirmed, support. The deal needs to be finalized before midnight on Friday to avoid a shutdown. This will bring the final FY19 appropriations process to a close (nearly 5 months after the fiscal year started on October 1). You’ll recall that education was largely untouched in the shutdown, as our portion of the appropriations process was funded on time last fall.

The conference report can be found here, a section by section summary here, and an explanatory statement here

I am including a top-line summary of the funding levels included in the bill. Of the programs and agencies impacted, we were most closely following the Department of Agriculture, as it is the agency that funds the school meals programs. (H/T to our friends in the Children’s Budget Coalition for this quick list): 

 

  • Department of Homeland Security: $49.4 billion, $1.7 billion above FY 18
  • Agriculture-Food Drug Administration: $23.042 billion in discretionary funding, $32 million above FY 18 
    • WIC is funded only at $6.075 billion, a $100 M cut from FY 18
    • Summer EBT and School Meal Equipment grants are level funded with FY 18 at $28 M and $30 M, respectively
  • Commerce Justice Science: 71.5 billion, $1.6 billion above FY 18 
    • Census is funded at $3.83 billion, an increase of more than $ 1 billion over FY 18
    • Title V Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Grants received $24.5 Million, $3 million below FY 18
    • Youth MENTOR grants received $95 million, a $1 million increase over FY 18
    • CASA level funded at $12 million
  • Interior-Environment: $35.6 billion, $300 million over FY 18
    • The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is level funded at $74.6 million
    • Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Programs are funded at $582.58 million, an increase of $3.3 million over FY 18.
  • Transportation and Housing Urban Development: $71.1 billion, a $1 billion increase over FY 18
    • Includes more than $17 billion in funding for new infrastructure projects
    • Public and Indian Housing received $31 billion, a $716.6 million increase over FY 18
    • The Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes received $279 million, an increase of $49 million above FY 18
  • State and Foreign-Ops: $54.2 billion in discretionary funding, including $8 billion in OCO funding—a $200 million increase over FY 18
  • Financial Services: Level funded at $23.42 billion. 
    • The IRS received $11.3 billion, an increase of $75 million above FY 18. $77 million is designated for implementation of FY 2017 tax legislation

 

February 13, 2019

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FINAL Details for NCE Fun Run with November Project Los Angeles

Ok, not for nothing: This morning, I ran with the same run club that is hosting our run fun on Friday. If the people who have RSVPed to the first 'officially unofficial NCE fun run' for Friday show up, we will have more runners than the run club itself. Keep up the hype, keep recruiting (bring a friend!) and I can't wait to see you all Friday morning. I'm hoping for a #SuptTakeOver!!

 

  • WHEN: Friday February 15, 2019; 6 am SHARP!
  • WHERE: 12th and Figueroa, just outside of Staples Center
  • WHAT: NCE Fun Run.
  • RSVP here (whether just interested or wanting to commit 100%); I will use this list for a final email on Thursday night to share my cell for text and call purposes.
  • Getting There: You can either meet us at 12th and Fig (look for the group of runners, likely wearing a lot of neon!) or you can meet up with me in the lobby of the JW Marriott. I'll be in the lobby at 5:45 am, and we will leave the lobby at 5:55 to make it to the start. Any questions? Shoot me an email (nellerson at aasa dot org). 

Other Things to Note:

 

  • Want a shirt? Keeping things officially unofficial, the team shirt for November Project is any shirt you bring with you, that can be spray painted with our stencil logo. If you have an extra shirt, one you'd like to 'tag', just bring it with you Friday morning. They'll have stencils and spray paint. 
  • This group runs in all weather. Rain or shine or snow or dark, this group is weather proof. If it's 6 am on Friday, the fun run will be happening!
  • The run is open to any and all fitness levels and paces. We will be working out with November Project LA, the LA chapter of my favorite DC running community. 
  • The workout is circuit based, meaning it is NOT point to point, so no need to worry about pace, getting lost, being held back, or being left behind. The workouts always include options for modifying up/down based on your fitness level or workout goals. 
  • Generally speaking, November Project workouts combine running (usually ¼ - ½ mile at a time, broken up with ‘spice’, different types of body weight exercises: squats, pushups, burpees, and the like). You can go as fast or slow as you like. 

See you at conference (and Friday morning!)

 

 

February 12, 2019

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All the Policy & Advocacy Fun at NCE19!

It’s go time here in LA. It’s finally the week of #NCE19, and I am happy to give a quick overview of all the advocacy/policy related content at conference. Sessions and details are below. And, as always, make a point to say hi to Sasha and me if you see us, and follow on twitter (@Noellerson and @SPudelski). Here’s what we have in store: 

  • Feb 14, 9-10 am: Federal Funding to Address School Safety and Mental Health (Room 510)
    Are you aware of all the funding streams, new and existing, that are available to improve mental health for students, hire school resource officers and improve school security infrastructure? If not, this session is for you! We will walk through the various formula and competitive grant opportunities that exist at different federal agencies that will enable you to use federal funding to meet the behavioral health and safety needs of your students.  We will also touch on private grant opportunities that can be available to districts to keep students safe. Download the presentation.
  • Feb 14, 12-1:30 pm: Federal Relations Luncheon: Educational Inequality & School Finance (Room 515A)
    Our nation's public schools receive and spend money. Lots of money. As part of this year's luncheon, Dr. Baker will look at the cyclical effects of teacher labor markets and competitive wages, as well as the cyclical effects of revenue at the state and local levels, and the current role of the courts to influence, impact and shape school funding realities. A can't miss session! Download the presentation.
  • Feb 14, 2-3 pm: Rural School Consolidation (Knowledge Exchange Theatre)
    Rural school districts face unique financial and political pressures. Low enrollment and revenue plague many schools. One suggested remedy in many states is to consolidate small rural schools or districts. In this panel, leaders with experience in rural schools will discuss the pressures on rural schools and the dangers of consolidation. Panelists will provide data and anecdotes on consolidation and other recommendations rural and small schools face in many states. No slides to share.
  • Feb 14, 3-4 pm: ESSA Fiscal Transparency: How to Communicate About Money (Room 510)
    Some of the most contentious issues district leaders face are about money. Those are about to get even more intense as a slew of school-by-school financials are released (per the ESSA requirement). This workshop-style session is designed to equip leaders to engage with their communities and principals (and the media!) on emerging financial data with the goal of leveraging dollars do the most for students. We’ll share new messaging research on how to talk about money in ways that can help unite (versus divide) communities, particularly amidst financial scarcity. Download the presentation.
  • Feb 15, 8-9 am: Student Data & Privacy: What to Expect in the New Congress (Room 511A)
    This year, Congress and state legislatures are expected to consider hundreds of policies related to student data and privacy, including the first reauthorization of the federal policy FERPA. This session will give an overview of the latest trends at the state level, what to expect at the federal level, and what it all could mean for the nation's public schools.
  • Feb 15, 11:15 am -12:15 pm: Federal Education Update (Room 510)
    Featuring Noelle Ellerson Ng and Sasha Pudelski. AASA's legislative portfolio is diverse and the opportunity for impacting federal education policy in the new Congress is deep. This session will cover AASA's 2019 legislative agenda priorities, including Perkins implementation, IDEA, vouchers, higher education, rural education, E-Rate, appropriations, school nutrition, privacy and more. Download the presentation
  • Feb 15, 12:45 to 1:45 pm: E-Rate and YOUR District (Room 510)
    E-Rate Speed Date: Changes to the E-Rate program have yet to reach their full impact. Hear from an E-Rate expert, a superintendent and an ed-tech director on the opportunities and obstacles schools and the E-Rate program face in their work to expand school connectivity. Come ready to think and hear about additional ways your school can access E-Rate dollars to bolster your district connectivity. Download the presentation.
  • Bill Daggett's Friday NCE General Session: Re-envisioning Learning: Addressing the Critical Needs of our Students Download the presentation.