Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update


December 6, 2019

Congressional Update

 Congress Continuing FY20 Appropriations Negotiations

With only 14 days remaining before stopgap funding for the Department of Education and other federal agencies expires, Congress appears to be no closer to resolving a standoff over additional funding requested by the White House for the southern border wall, despite some progress on agreeing to overall spending levels. Senate and House leaders are continuing to discuss an agreement for completing the annual federal spending process, which should have concluded by the end of September. If Congress does not reach an agreement before December 20, a third stopgap spending bill will be needed to continue government operations. With the holidays on the horizon, we anticipate that another temporary funding bill would most likely have to stay in place until February or March of 2020. MSBA and NSBA are continuing to urge Congress to complete the Department of Education’s budget, including adopting spending levels – especially for ESSA Title I and IDEA Part B– close to the levels passed by the House earlier this year which includes an increase in funding for public education.

 Administration Update

 FCC Publishes New E-rate Category Two Regulations

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission published new regulations governing category two of the E-rate program.The E-Rate helps school and libraries pay for broadband access, through category one and category two services. Category one services provide connectivity to schools and libraries, while category two services provide connectivity within them. The new rules make several valuable improvements for school districts that use the program to support their broadband networks, including:

  • Permitting school districts to allocate their category two funding among their schools;
  • Increasing the category two funding floor for small, rural schools from $9,200 to $25,000 starting in 2021;
  • Making managed internal broadband services, caching and basic maintenance of internal connections permanently eligible for category two support;
  • Making the category two budget structure, first adopted by the FCC in 2014, permanent.

MSBA and NSBA asked the FCC to raise the per pupil funding amount provided by the program from $150 to $250, but the agency rejected the idea.  However we are pleased, by the other category two improvements adopted by the agency and looks forward to helping school district applicants take full advantage of them.

Notable K-12 Bills

  • H.R.5286To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grant program that will support efforts at the State level to establish anti-bullying task forces to study, address, and reduce bullying in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Krishnamoorthi, Raja [D-IL-8]
  • H.R.5283To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve direct certification, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Fudge, Marcia L. [D-OH-11]
  • H.R.5253To provide entrepreneurship as a well-rounded educational opportunity, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Meng, Grace [D-NY-6]
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