Federal Update: Comparison of U.S. House, Senate ESEA bills; hearing held on Child Nutrition Act

Federal Update: Comparison of U.S. House, Senate ESEA bills; hearing held on Child Nutrition Act

In early June, the U.S. Senate may consider their version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177), after senators return to Capitol Hill from their Memorial Day/State Work Period.

Congress is working to pass a modernized ESEA reauthorization out of both chambers. S. 1177 was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and awaits Senate floor consideration. The Student Success Act of 2015 (H.R. 5), was reported out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is currently awaiting a vote on the House floor, after earlier floor debate on the bill in February.

Click here to view the National School Boards Association’s comparison chart regarding the House and Senate ESEA bills that provides further details.  

Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization Hearing: On Tuesday, May 19, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing on waste, fraud and abuse in child nutrition programs. Prior to the hearing, NSBA featured the impact of multiple new requirements on school districts’ ability to step up program integrity measures in a letter to Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN). Flexibility and sufficient federal resources are essential for school districts to successfully provide both healthy meals and an excellent education to all students.

The witnesses made the following points:

  • School Food Authorities are required to verify just 3 percent of applications for free and reduced price meals, yet according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General fraud is NOT a significant factor in school meal programs.
  • School districts were overwhelmed by new guidance & regulations after the 2010 reauthorization, which led to compliance errors.
  • The USDA is aware that its role in program integrity needs to be strengthened and is taking steps to improve.

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