Last week, the House and Senate passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill which will fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2018. This funding package comes after several short-term funding packages, one government shutdown, and a two-year spending deal. There were major concerns that a funding bill wouldn’t get passed before the March 23 deadline due to several controversial riders, but they were ultimately excluded from the legislation to ensure its passage.
The omnibus provides new funding levels for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and its programs. Total ED spending covering K–12 issues increased by $2.6 billion over the previously enacted levels in FY 17, bringing it to $70.9 billion. The bill included funding changes to a number of programs of importance to school leaders, including:
- Title II: A top priority for NASSP is funding for Title II, Part A, which is used to recruit, train, and retain educators. We have focused the majority of our advocacy efforts on this program in recent years, partnering with numerous other national education organizations and activating our grassroots network in the states. Funding for Title II was level funded, at $2.1 billion, which is a major victory considering President Trump has called for the elimination of the program in his past two budget requests. Each year that Title II remains level funded ensures educators’ access to professional development opportunities that allow them to better themselves for their students. It also ensures that states will be able to implement plans to enhance teacher and principal effectiveness under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
- Title I: Title I spending for disadvantaged students rises by $300 million, bringing its total to $15.76 billion.
- IDEA State Grants: Special education state grants receive $12.27 billion, which is a $275 million increase over the 2017 enacted level.
- Title IV: The new Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants program was developed under ESSA to provide states with a flexible way to spend federal dollars to help students receive a well-rounded education, improve school climate and culture, and promote the effective use of technology. This program will receive a $700 million increase, bringing its total funding to $1.1 billion. While still below its $1.65 billion authorized level, the omnibus does at least move Title IV funding in the right direction.
- CTE State Grants: Career and technical education grant funding receives a small increase and is now funded at $1.19 billion.
- Literacy State Development Grants: Grants focused on aiding disadvantaged students develop literacy skills receive $19 million under the bill, the same as in 2017.
- The bill also included the STOP School Violence Act, a bill NASSP supports. This proposal would fund a Department of Justice program aimed to enhance school safety at $75 million annually.
The passage of the omnibus finally allows for Congress to begin its work on the FY 19 budget process. President Trump has released his FY 2019 budget already, which calls for drastic cuts to many important education programs. This includes the complete elimination of some programs, such as Title II.
NASSP continues to strongly advocate for increased federal spending in education and will continue to do so throughout the FY 2019 appropriations process. As future budget negotiations unfold, NASSP will keep you informed here on the School of Thought blog.