Stalled Negotiations On School Reopening Funds
Negotiations between Congress and the White House continue to stall despite the critical need to provide funds for schools to effectively reopen.
The CARES Act, passed and signed into law in late March, provided schools with much-needed support to respond to the coronavirus. The $13 billion in CARES Act funding provided schools with emergency needs such as WiFi hotspots and delivering meals to students in need. Since passage of this legislation, however, Congress has failed to provide additional funding to help schools. This despite schools facing significant costs to reopen, either in-person or remotely. In addition to the short-term costs, schools face a bleak financial outlook because of expected significant decreases in state funding for K-12. Schools clearly need additional federal support to navigate these choppy waters and Congress must step up and provide the necessary resources.
Keep an eye on September 30. Negotiations on a new stimulus bill that would include funding for schools have stalled over the past few months, with Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials hardly speaking. The House and Senate left Washington for its annual August recess and will return next week. With a must-pass government funding bill looming on September 30, there is some optimism that funding for schools can be attached to this legislation.
NAESP Responds to Stalemate
NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE, called on Congress and the Trump administration to resume negotiations and reach an agreement that includes robust funding for schools.
School Meals Flexibilities Extended Through Dec. 31, 2020
This spring, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided nationwide child nutrition waivers giving schools and districts flexibility to provide meals to students in need no matter if schools were operating in-person classes. These waivers, which have been critical for school districts to provide students meals during the COVID pandemic, were set to expire on September 30, 2020. This week, USDA announced they would be extended through December 31, 2020. The ongoing flexibility will be especially important this school year given the variety of learning models of districts across the country (e.g., modified in-person classes, hybrid and remote learning options). NAESP has joined other national education and child hunger advocacy groups urging USDA to extend all child nutrition waivers for all districts for the entire school year so children can continue receiving nutritious meals.
NAESP Releases Guidance Document To Leverage Principal Voice During School Reopenings
NAESP has released a guidance document, “Leveraging School Principals to Ensure Safe and Successful School Reopenings,” focused on ways state and local leaders should engage principals during the planning and implementation process to reopen schools. When principals—those whose core job it will be to implement reopening plans—are given a seat at the table, they can help leaders answer difficult questions about how these plans can be done safely. Principals know best which instructional models should be used, how parents should be engaged, and how funding can be allocated to best address individual school needs.
Results On National Survey Of Principals On Reopening Schools
As schools prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, complex questions loom for education leaders regarding what reopening schools will look like, how it can be done safely, which stakeholders need to be part of the decision-making process, and how funding should be allocated. With this in mind, NAESP conducted a national survey of principals to learn more about their perspectives and priorities regarding school reopening planning and implementation. The survey, conducted July 7-16, 2020, includes 798 total responses from NAESP members—both principals and assistant principals—in all 50 states. Link to the survey results can be found here.