Legislative Update: Congress Agrees to Final FY18 Spending Package

This week both the House and Senate have <finally> passed legislation on federal funding for fiscal year 2018, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, ending the threat of  another government shutdown.

The news is good for federal education programs. 

In the spending package the U.S. Department of Education department would be funded at $70.9 billion in FY2018 which is a 6 percent increase over fiscal year 2017.

Congress provided $1.1 billion in FY18 funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title IVA grants, known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program. This is a $700 million increase over last year’s level of $400 million and should allow the program to operate as a formula grant program, as Congress mandated in the law. Title IVA grants will now go to all districts/schools where they will decide how to spend the funding to support well-rounded education learning opportunities, including science and STEM ed programs, and programs that support safe and healthy students and education technology.

The bill maintains $2.1 billion in funding for ESSA Title II grants which provide funds for teacher professional learning and class-size reduction efforts.

The FY2018 package also includes a $20 million boost for the ESSA 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides funding for after-school programs, many which include STEM programs. Total funding for this program is $1.2 billion.

As you will recall, the Administration proposed eliminating ESSA Title IV, Title II and the 21st Century programs, saying the programs were unnecessary, duplicative or ineffective.

Key highlights:

  • ESSA Title IVA — $1.1 billion for FY2018, up from $400 million
  • ESSA Title II, flat-funded at roughly $2.1 billion
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers up $20 million up to $1.2 billion
  • Title I: 300 million for Title I-A grants, bringing the total funding for the program to $15.8 billion
  • Special Education: $299 million for Special Education state grants, bringing the program total to $13.1 billion
  • Charter Schools: a $58 million boost bringing the total funding to $400 million. Note that no other school choice plan floated by the Administration was funded by Congress
  • Career and technical education programs — a $75 million increase bringing the total funding for career and technical education state grants to $1.2 billion
  • National Science Foundation: NSF funded at $7.8 billion; the NSF Education and Human Resources would receive $902 million

The bill also includes a $50 million increase to the Education Innovation and Research program for evidence-based STEM education programs, including in computer science education. 

The STOP School Violence Act was also included in the spending package.  This bill funds training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety including paying for physical improvements such as metal detectors, stronger locks and emergency notification technologies.

As you will recall from previous issues of the NSTA Legislative Update this budget is based on an earlier agreement to raise budget caps by $80 billion for defense programs and $63 billion for nondefense programs for fiscal year 2018.

Read more here and read the Achieve chart here

The Title IV-A Coalition, comprised of more than 30 educational organizations (NSTA is a member of the Steering Committee), sent out this statement shortly after the bill was filed: The Title IVA Coalition is thrilled that Congress has provided $1.1 billion in FY18 funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program. This figure represents a 250% funding increase over last year’s inadequate level of $400 million and should allow the program to operate as a formula grant program, as Congress mandated in the law. Most importantly, this level of funding will allow school districts to have true flexibility in determining how to meaningfully invest in and support programs that support safe and healthy students, a well-rounded academic curriculum, and an effective educational technology program. Due to last year’s low funding level, districts were stripped of this flexibility, and many did not have access to Title IV-A funds. We are extremely grateful for the recognition that this program needed more funds to operate successfully and look forward to continued appropriations at or above this level.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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