HEROES Act Legislation The Senate and House will return to Washington next week with a busy schedule before the annual July 4th recess. Senate business could include discussions about additional pandemic aid. Following several weeks of stalling legislation on additional aid, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged recently that more emergency funding may be needed. He cautioned, however, that the Senate would not consider spending at the $3 trillion level recently approved by the House (the HEROES Act).

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is monitoring the movement in the Senate and House and does not expect an agreement for a new emergency bill until July. NSBA will continue to advocate for a direct investment in local education budgets, along with dedicated funding for providing more internet access to students and teachers.

Ruling by Secretary Betsy DeVos  Under the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), school districts were required to use a portion of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to provide all private school students with equitable services. The ESSER Funds were distributed to the states based on their enrollment of Title 1 students for public K-12 students. DeVos had used a different calculation for private schools based on total enrollment — not just students who are disadvantaged.

After learning that some states planned to ignore the non-binding guidance, Secretary DeVos announced plans to adopt regulations forcing states and school districts to follow her interpretation of the law. Congressional leaders, including Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, publicly disagreed with the secretary’s interpretation.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) expects the USDOE to publish proposed regulations for public comment later this month. The NSBA will continue to discuss with leaders the misinterpretation of the law and will aggressively continue advocacy efforts as Congress considers new supplemental legislation.

New Jersey received $310 million with a distribution of $280 million given to school districts for pandemic services mainly focusing on technology.