On July 8, National School Boards Association along with the national school superintendent’s association (AASA) and the Association for Educational Service Agencies (AESA), sent a letter to Congressional leaders requesting that they include temporary and targeted liability relief for school districts within the next round of COVID-19 aid legislation. As the issue of reopening schools moves forward, liability protections will be crucial for public school districts. Including this in legislation will help implement necessary protocols to protect students and staff.
House Appropriations Subcommittee Advances FY21 Education Spending Bill On July 7, the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing education funding passed their fiscal year (FY) 2021 legislation. The legislation proposes an additional $716 million (an annual increase of approximately 1%). The National School Boards Association is attempting to obtain and share a copy of a report on the legislation ahead of further committee action. House Democratic leaders are currently aiming to hold floor votes on most FY 2021 spending bills by the end of July.
Pandemic Relief Package Discussions Continue Discussions in Congress regarding the next COVID-19 relief package have continued. Congressional leaders in both parties, along with the White House, remain publicly committed to passing a fifth aid package in response to the pandemic by the end of the month—just before the start of the annual August recess in Congress. However, disagreements over the total size of the aid package have emerged. The White House, along with some Congressional Republicans, hope to cap the package at $1 trillion while Congressional Democrats strongly favor significantly more funding in the future legislation. NSBA’s advocacy team is working to ensure lawmakers appreciate the emergency funding needs for the K-12 education community, particularly as the new school year approaches.
White House Summit on Safely Reopening America’s Schools The White House convened a number of education stakeholders from the state and local levels, along with senior members of the administration, to discuss the reopening of K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions for the 2020-21 academic school year set to begin this fall. The central purpose for the half-day summit was to encourage states, school districts, and institutions to reopen later this year, share best practices for how to achieve that, and elevate efforts to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic once reopened.
Continued Privatization Efforts by the Administration Recent remarks by the president and education secretary are fueling concerns over potential efforts to force school buildings to fully reopen in the fall through funding threats. The opening and closing of schools are decisions made at the state and local level. The NSBA has expressed its opposition to any efforts to punish public schools that do not open their buildings fully due to concerns over COVID-19. Secretary Betsy DeVos is also increasing her calls for funding to “follow students” in the fall so they could attend a private school. The NSBA is also strongly opposed to any such effort and is committed to fighting for more federal funds and resources needed to assist states and local school districts, since they bear most of the financial liability to keep their students safe and offer them a high-quality education.