The Return to School Roadmap
A Conversation with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona
You are invited to join U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for a conversation with NAESP and NASSP members on Friday, Aug. 13, from 2:30-3 p.m. ET to discuss the Department of Education’s back-to-school efforts, including its Return to School Roadmap. This conversation will be an opportunity for NAESP members to engage directly with the secretary. The discussion will also include a Q&A portion so please bring any questions or feedback you might have. Advance registration is required for participation. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting.
This week, the Senate is considering a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes funding for roads, bridges, airports, and broadband. The legislation provides funding for some K-12-related programs, including $15.7 billion for lead pipe removal in homes and schools, $5 billion for zero-emissions school buses, $500 million for energy efficiency improvements in schools, cybersecurity grants, broadband funding, and an extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The legislation, though, leaves out a key NAESP advocacy priority: $100 billion for K-12 infrastructure grants to help schools with facility upgrades and school modernization. A recent GAO study illuminates the scope of the problem: In about a quarter of all school districts, at least half of their schools needed upgrades or replacements to major building systems, such as heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing, or windows. NAESP is working with other national groups to include K-12 infrastructure funding in another legislative package, known as reconciliation, which should move forward this fall. Be on the lookout for an upcoming advocacy alert asking NAESP members to urge their members of Congress to prioritize K-12 school infrastructure in the reconciliation bill.
American Rescue Plan Implementation, Principal Engagement Efforts
NAESP is continuing to engage heavily with Congress and the U.S. Department of Education in the implementation of federal coronavirus relief funding, including American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. State education agencies (SEAs) and districts must meaningfully engage a wide swath of stakeholders, including principals, about how these funds should be allocated. The SEA and district use of funds planning requirements present a huge opportunity for the principal voice to be brought to the table. To that end, NAESP is focusing advocacy efforts on ensuring principals are meaningfully consulted throughout this process. NAESP recently collaborated with Dr. Marguerite Roza of Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab to release a resource for principals on ways they can engage their district to ensure funds are used to address principals’ priorities. NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE, and NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe previously wrote an op-ed published in The 74, which laid out four key reasons why leveraging principals is critical to successful ARP implementation.
In May, the Biden administration released its FY22 Budget, which included a nearly 40 percent increase in funding for the U.S. Department of Education. In late July, the House of Representatives Committee passed the bill, which provides significant funding increases to key K-12 programs. A few highlights of the funding bill:
- $36 billion for Title I, an increase of $19.5 billion over FY21 levels
- $17.2 billion for IDEA, an increase of $3.1 billion over FY21 levels
- An additional $1 billion to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in K-12 schools
- $2.3 billion for Title II, an increase of $150 million over FY21 levels
Federal Funding for Remote Learning
The Federal Communications Commission recently announced a 45-day application window (deadline Aug. 13) for a new $7.2 billion fund, included in the American Rescue Plan. The fund provides grants to schools and libraries to purchase devices and improve internet access for students. Allowable purchases include laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, routers, modems, and broadband internet connections for use by students, school staff, and library. Funding is limited to students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband internet services sufficient to engage in remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Updates and Tidbits
- The U.S. Department of Education released a “Return to School Roadmap.”
- The CDC updated its K-12 guidance to recommend that all students, staff, and visitors wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. The agency also updated the exception to the “close contact” definition for students in K-12 indoor classroom settings.
- The U.S. Department of Education released a resource to help schools improve ventilation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- The White House released a “Reopening Schools and Rebuilding With Equity” fact sheet.
- The Institute of Education Sciences found that public school enrollment dropped three percent in the 2020-2021 school year.