School Leaders are Number Two Priority in President’s Budget

Today the President released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Education.  The President requested $68.6 billion in education funding which is an increase of $1.3 billion over Fiscal Year 2014 allocations.  In its FY15 budget the Department lays out its six priorities:  “1) increasing equity and opportunity for all students, 2) strengthening support for teachers and school leaders, 3) expanding high-quality preschool programs, 4) affordability and quality in postsecondary education, 5) promoting educational innovation and improvement, and 6) improving school safety and climate.”

NASSP was ecstatic to see that support for teachers and school leaders was highlighted as the number two priority for the Department, however the School Leadership Program saw a modest increase from the FY14 levels to a proposed level of $35 million.  This increase pales in comparison to the ever growing professional development needs of school leaders as they work to implement college and career-ready standards and new teacher evaluation systems. (See NASSP & NAESP’s Policy Brief:  Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems.)

In the FY15 budget plan, Title I is renamed, “College and Career Ready Students” and is level funded at $14.4 billion.  Additionally, IDEA state grants are funded at $11.6 billion which is an increase of $100 million over FY14 appropriations, but the $100 million is earmarked for Results Driven Accountability Incentive grants, a new competitive grant program.  Career and technical education state grants were also level funded at $1.1 billion in the President’s proposal.

One program NASSP was particularly pleased to see the President include was the new ConnectEDucators grant at $200 million, that would support the use of digital devices and technology, including professional development to personalize the learning environment.  NASSP has long promoted digital learning and technology to foster personalized learning for all students.  This initiative supplements ConnectED, that NASSP also supports, which aims to bring broadband internet to 99 percent of students in five years.

This year’s proposal again includes the High School Redesign program, requested at $150 million which would provide competitive grants to local school districts that partner with institutions of higher education, non-profits, community based organizations, government agencies, and business or industry related organizations to stimulate a comprehensive redesign of the high school experience with meaningful and relevant academic and career-related learning experiences.  This program is currently mirrored in the Youth CareerConnect grants managed by the U.S. Department of Labor.  The President also once again proposed elimination of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program to form their own program called Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy.  However, Striving Readers has strong support in Congress and was funded at $158 million in the FY14 omnibus spending bill.

Lastly, the FY15 request included a new Race to the Top (RTT) initiative, RTT-Equity and Opportunity competitive grant program that seeks to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for students attending the nation’s highest-poverty schools.  The President’s request is for $300 million.  While equity in our nation’s public schools is deservedly the number priority in the Department of Education’s FY15 budget request, it shouldn’t be a competitive grant program that typically benefits the districts that already have the resources to write successful grant proposals while leaving out poorer and rural districts that lack the support and resources to compete.  NASSP continues to urge a stronger investment in formula funded programs, like Title I and IDEA that support high poverty schools and students and students with disabilities.

To view all the Department of Education budget documents, visit www.ed.gov/budget15 and make sure to continue to check the Principals Policy Blog for more information and follow @balljacki and @akarhuse on Twitter.

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