Shutdown would not affect federal education funding

Although a federal government shutdown appears increasingly likely, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2019 funding will not be affected. 

Congressional leaders and President Trump continue to battle over Trump’s desire to pay for a $5 billion proposal by the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to build a wall at the border with Mexico. If the government shuts down, it would impact the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, and Housing & Urban Development. Funding for other agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, was approved prior to the midterm elections. 

School Safety  

Last week, the Federal Commission on School Safety and other federal entities released guidance on Emergency Operations Plans and links to related resources in the form of a letter sent to Chief State School Officers and Governors, which may also be helpful to local school board members as well. The letter requests that states review their Emergency Operations Plans and develop procedures to update them on a yearly basis, including working with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that the plan is meeting its ultimate purpose. In addition to this guidance letter, there is some anticipation that the Commission will publish its full report on the school safety process before the end of this year. A copy of the letter can be accessed here. 

The Kansas State Board of Education adopted its proposed school safety standards last week. They include requirements for school district crisis plans (most have already), better communication with local law enforcement and first responders and provisions for “hardening” schools. The standards are listed on page 99 at this link 

KASB’s Delegate Assembly on Dec. 2 adopted legislative policy supporting not only school safety drills and information sharing but also increased support for school and community health and social services to improve overall student health and safety (p.2). 

School Meals  

As KASB reported , The United States Department of Agriculture on December 6 released a “final rule on school meal flexibilities” that gives local school food programs some new menu options. 

The new regulations, which take effect July 1, 2019, roll back some Obama-era standards enacted under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), which sought to reduce the amount of fat and sodium in school meals and increase the amount of whole grains served. Students, parents and some school nutrition directors almost immediately raised concerns about the standards. They said students didn’t like the new menu options and threw much of the food in the trash. Some districts expressed concern that local taste and nutrition preferences were stifled or ignored by the federal government. KASB’s federal legislative policy supports reauthorization of the HHFKA in a way that increases flexibility for local districts in providing healthy meals to children and families. See page 3 here. 

President Trump is expected to sign H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (Farm bill), into law soon. This legislation extends the nation’s major federal farm, nutrition assistance and rural development programs for another five years (through FY 2023).  

In 2019, the National School Boards Association will ask Congress and the administration for additional flexibility on: 

  • “Offer” vs. “serve” – go back to “offer” to help prevent plate waste  
  • A la carte restrictions – allow all foods served in the reimbursed line to be served as an a la carte item  
  • Paid meal price mandate – reduce or eliminate this mandate, which led to increase meal costs for all students and ultimately lower participation rates  
  • Administrative review cycle – restore the five-year review cycle as many districts are performing well and do not have the resources to comply with the current review cycle. 

Learn more about 2019 federal education issues, including a push to reauthorize and modernize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), at KASB’s Advocacy in Action workshop Jan. 16-17 in Topeka. Registration opens soon.

Share this post