Friday, October 4, 2013

NSBA on Education, Fiscal Year 2014 and the Federal Government Shutdown

For a great summary of the impact of the federal shutdown on education, the following is the weekly advocacy update from Kathleen Branch, Director, National Advocacy Services Programs for the National School Boards Association.

NSBA continues to register concerns about the harmful budget cuts to education because of sequestration, which has already reduced funding for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, and other education programs by almost $3 billion in the last fiscal year. 
Because House and Senate leaders could not agree on a final bill that would continue funding for education and other programs through December 15, many federal government operations were halted on October 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year.  As of October 4, we are dealing with day four of the government shutdown; and, NSBA is urging Congress to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) that does not extend the harmful sequestration cuts. 
NSBA's concerns over the shutdown and sequestration were covered by POLITICO this week in one of its "Morning Education" columns.  View the press release expressing NSBA's position.
With the shutdown, funding for school districts that receive Impact Aid is delayed. (The Impact Aid program provides grants to school districts with nontaxable federal land and installations within their boundaries to make up for the lost revenues and additional costs associated with the federal presence. For example, the program benefits schools with military installations nearby or Indian trust lands.)  Additionally, funding for Head Start is delayed, which has an immediate effect on 23 Head Start programs in 11 states with grants that did not renew on October 1.  These programs are now at risk of closure.
Before the federal shutdown began, the U.S. Department of Education published its contingency plan that details its operating status:  ED Contingency Plan for Lapse in FY 2014 Appropriation

The contingency plan notes that funds already appropriated for programs such as Title I, special education, teacher quality and career and technical education would continue.  "For a lapse occurring during the first week of October, the authorized obligations would include the $22 billion in advance appropriations for formula grants to States under Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State Grants, and Career and Technical Education," according to the U.S. Department of Education memorandum.  "These funds, which were included in the 2013 appropriation, are normally obligated on October 1 and provide the second nstallment of critical funding under annual allocations for the school year that began July 1. These funds are already appropriated and do not require further Congressional authorization. The Department believes that any delay in obligating these funds could, in some cases, significantly damage State and local program operations. Particularly in light of recent Federal and state funding reductions, the Department considers the October obligation of advance appropriations for formula grants to States under Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State Grants, and Career and Technical Education as a necessary exception requiring a limited number of employees to work in the absence of an appropriation of separate administrative funds."
NSBA's Center for Public Education prepared the following summary of how education programs are impacted by the shutdown that is available here:
The following points provide some insight about key programs amid the shutdown.
  • Head Start: An estimated 19,000 children lost access to Head Start services on October 1, according to the National Head Start Association, and this number will grow as federal grants to programs are not renewed. This is in addition to an estimated 57,000 children who lost services due to the sequester of federal funds the last fiscal year. One million children are enrolled in Head Start nationwide, and 10 - 15% of Head Start programs are affiliated with public school districts.
  • Child nutrition: School lunch and breakfast programs should could continue for the month of October, because schools are reimbursed the month following service. If the government shutdown continues past October, however, the federal government would be unable to provide reimbursement. To the extent that states can pay for school meals without federal reimbursement, meals could continue after October, but overall the program could be in real trouble if the shutdown is not resolved soon.
  • E-Rate: E-Rate commitments for high-need schools and libraries should continue to flow. This is because E-Rate has a temporary exemption from the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), the federal law which prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which Congress has not appropriated funds (and is why the federal government shut down Congress did not pass a budget for the new fiscal year). However, E-Rate's ADA exemption expires December 31, 2013. In addition, a major rulemaking proposal from the Federal Communications Commission to modernize E-Rate is open for public comments untilOctober 16, 2013, but the website for submitting stakeholder input is inoperable due to the shutdown. NSBA's comments on the proposed E-Rate modernization were submitted in September.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders met with President Obama this week.  However, the meeting did not yield any mutual solution to ending the shutdown. The House is slated to consider a series of small continuing resolutions for individual programs this weekend that will continue to impose cuts through sequestration. 
You may contact your members at the Capitol Hill switchboard number which is (202) 224-3121,  and/or their state/district offices.  Your outreach to members of Congress is greatly appreciated. 

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