Compiled by the MSBA Government Relations staff
Last autumn, Congressional lawmakers were unable to find agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22) which began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, Congress has passed a series of short-term funding extensions of current fiscal year 2021 funding levels to continue federal government operations past this date. The most recent of these measures, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire on February 18. To avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for programs like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), lawmakers have continued to negotiate a longer-term funding package to cover the remainder of FY22.
USDA increases school meal reimbursement rates
Late last Friday, January 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an increase of school meal reimbursement rates which the Department estimates will provide $750 million in additional funding for school meal programs during the upcoming year. Specifically, USDA is now providing 22% more for school lunches — about 25 cents per lunch — than under normal circumstances. More information on the changes can be found here.
FCC launches seventh wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund commitments
On Monday, January 10, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a seventh wave of funding commitments totaling over $361 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of NSBA’s top legislative priorities over the past year. This round of commitments will support 802 schools, 49 libraries, and 8 consortia to receive nearly 654,000 internet-capable devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. More information on the announcement can be found here.
USED promotes Full-Service Community Schools
On Wednesday, January 12, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released proposed rules and related definitions for a competitive grant program to support Full-Service Community Schools. USED describes this grant program as providing “… support for the planning, implementation, and operation of full-service community schools that improve the coordination, integration, accessibility, and effectiveness of services for children and families, particularly for children attending high-poverty schools, including high-poverty rural schools.” The Department is seeking comments and input from the public regarding this proposal. Since 2010, the Full-Service Community Schools competitive grant program has supported 55 communities across the nation. Comments are due back to USED no later than February 11, 2022.