This week the House and Senate passed legislation which will fund the federal government for the remainder of federal fiscal year (FY) 2017. Under the new legislation, funding for programs including Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would increase slightly. Most other programs would be level-funded.
However, a number of other programs would see significant cuts. State grants for teacher development under Title II of ESEA would be cut by about $294 million, bringing the total funding for this grant down to $2.1 billion for the fiscal year. Combined with changes to the State- and district-level funding formulas and hold harmless provisions for Title II that were passed into law in late 2015, this could lead to significant losses for many districts.
The legislation would also provide only $400 million for the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment State grant (Title IV, Part A of ESEA). This program is a block grant which combines a number of previous programs into a more flexible pool of funds that districts can use for a number of purposes. However, when Congress reauthorized ESEA in 2015, lawmakers authorized a total of $1.6 billion for the program, meaning that this legislation provides about 75% less than originally anticipated.
Because funding will be drastically lower under this legislation, Congress is allowing States to distribute the funding competitively to LEAs rather than by formula (money will still go to States according to their share of ESEA Title I dollars). States may still choose to distribute the grant to LEAs by formula, so long as each district would receive at least $10,000. If a State distributes money competitively, districts would have to spend at least 20% of funding on a list of “safe and healthy students” activities, 20% on “well-rounded education” activities, and a portion on technology (with up to 25% going to infrastructure. In addition, States awarding funds competitively would have to give priority to districts or consortia with high number of Title I-eligible students and would have to take geographic diversity into account.
Additionally, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights would receive a small increase in funding, bringing its total funding to $109 million. Career and Technical Education programs and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Job Training grants would be level funded, and Impact Aid programs would receive a small boost. Pell grant expenditures will remain the same.
The legislation must still go to the President for his signature. Total amounts may also be adjusted to account for caps on defense and non-defense spending instituted under sequestration, but those adjustments are expected to be minimal.
Resources: Andrew Ujifusa, “Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education,” Politics K-12, May 1, 2017.