FY23 Budget Released

Exploring the FY23 budget, plus electric school buses, Medicaid reimbursement, and school flexibility waivers.

Topics: Advocacy and Legislation

On March 28, the Biden administration released its FY23 budget, providing the Department of Education (ED) $88.3 billion in discretionary funding—a $12.9 billion (17 percent) increase over FY22 funding levels, which were finalized in March.

Where Do Things Stand in the FY23 Budget Process?

The release of the administration’s budget is the first step in passing a new funding bill. The current FY22 funding bill expires Sept. 30, 2022. Over the next few months, committees on Capitol Hill will hold hearings on the budget, hear from experts on program funding needs, and ultimately, vote on a bill that includes funding for federal education programs. Since the budget was released, NAESP’s advocacy team has been meeting with key allies on Capitol Hill to push for the strongest possible funding for priority programs. NAESP has also worked through its coalitions and partner organizations to send letters of support focused on NAESP’s core policy priorities, including educator supports (Title II-A), students with disabilities (IDEA), recruiting the next generation of educators, addressing the educator pipeline, wraparound services (Title IV – Part A), afterschool programs (Title IV – Part B), school facilities, and school-based mental health professionals.

How Does the Budget Impact Principals and Their Schools?

Over the past few years, schools have been using federal COVID-19 relief funding to help keep schools open, support students who have fallen behind academically, and provide students with mental health supports. Though this emergency funding has been critical, the funding will expire. NAESP has been vocal that schools need robust long-term federal funding streams to address the gauntlet of challenges they face on a daily basis. Below are some of the priority programs in the FY23 budget NAESP is advocating for:

  • Title I: The budget increases funding for Title I by $19 billion as part of the president’s pledge to triple Title I funding over time. The 2023 level is more than double the 2022 enacted level. The requested increase is a combination of $3 billion in discretionary funding and $16 billion in mandatory funding. Note: The mandatory spending request would have to be enacted in legislation separate from the annual appropriations bill.
  • IDEA: The budget increases funding for all special education state grants by $3.4 billion (24 percent) over the 2022 enacted level, with funding for Part B grants receiving a $2.9 billion increase. The IDEA personnel preparation program receives a $155 million (163 percent) increase, which is part of the budget’s emphasis on creating a well-prepared and diverse educator workforce.
  • School-based health professionals: The 2023 budget reprises last year’s proposal for $1 billion for a new program to increase the number of counselors, school psychologists, and other health professionals in schools. The FY22 funding bill passed in March included a $111 million increase for school-based mental health professionals.
  • Education innovation and improvement: The budget increases funding by $280 million (120 percent) for this program, with $350 million total intended for projects to improve recruitment and retention of education staff. This is one of several programs in the budget focused on bolstering the educator pipeline.
  • Increases in early childhood programs outside of ED: The budget has large increases for three early childhood education-related programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): a $1.2 billion (10 percent) increase for Head Start; a $1.4 billion (23 percent) increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant; and a $160 million (55 percent) increase for Preschool Development Grants.

Advocacy in Action

New Federal Funding for Electric School Buses

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed into law in November 2021 included $5 billion for the replacement of existing school buses with clean and zero-emission school buses. To qualify for funding, school bus replacements must produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors. The Environmental Protection Agency recently opened up the grant program for districts. The program is designed for bus replacement and infrastructure only. Learn More

Medicaid Reimbursement for Schools

A core advocacy goal of NAESP is for the federal government to provide sustained, long-term funding for schools to hire, train, and compensate mental health professionals. Though COVID-19 relief funding (e.g., ESSER, ARP, etc.) has helped schools hire additional mental health professions (some studies have found schools have used the funds to hire 65 percent more social workers and 17 percent more school counselors), the funding is temporary and will expire in 2024.

To help sustain these roles, the ED and HHS recently announced a new effort to make it easier for school-based mental health professionals to seek reimbursement through the Medicaid program. Medicaid provides an established funding stream for schools, but too often the process is complicated and cumbersome for schools to receive reimbursement. NAESP is working with these federal agencies to identify opportunities to cut red tape and streamline the process for schools to unlock these funds. Learn More

School Meal Flexibility Waivers Set to Expire

Early in the pandemic, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue national child nutrition waivers that made it possible for schools to adapt their nutrition programs so they could still feed students, despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Absent action, however, the current waivers will expire in June 2022, meaning schools would no longer be able to use streamlined processes to avoid administrative burdens, have flexibility to contend with supply chain and staffing issues, and have the ability to quickly adapt their school meals programs when new challenges such as COVID variants arise.

NAESP is urging Congress to authorize the USDA to grant waivers through the 2022-2023 school year to allow schools to continue their current operations and giving them time to effectively budget and plan for the transition to normal operations. Please sign the petition organized by No Kid Hungry urging Congress and the administration to extend the waivers. Sign Petition