The President's FY 2015 (School year 2015-16) budget proposal was released this week. I wanted to provide you with some of the numbers and proposed new initiatives, as well as the process for appropriations going forward. As a reminder, the federal fiscal year begins on October 1, so FY 2015 begins on October 1, 2014.
The president's budget includes a request of an additional $56 billion beyond the budget cap that was negotiated in January -- divided between non-defense and discretionary programs -- for an "Opportunity, Growth, and Security" initiative. This would be paid for by cuts in some mandatory spending and some new revenues. The chances of this passing are extremely slim!
1) "Successful, Safe and Healthy Students" -- Once again the president has proposed eliminating several programs, including Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities and the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP), and consolidating them into a larger grant program. This program would also include a national activities authority under which funds would be reserved to continue initiatives from "Now the Time," the program rolled out after the Sandy Hook shooting focused on safer schools. This includes $50 million for School Climate Transformation Grants and other technical assistsance and training to implement school climate strategies; and $25 million for Project Prevent grants to school districts to help schools in communities with pervasive violence to break that cycle and the impact on children. Project SERV -- school emergency response to violence -- is also included in this pot.
SSWAA is working with our partners at the National Association of School Psychologists and the American School Counselor Association to ensure Congress maintains the school counseling program, which some of you have received in your own districts to fund SSW positions. We are beginning our visits to all the appropriations committee members on Monday and will be asking you soon to contact your members of Congress. Stay tuned!
Other parts of the budget proposal include...
2) IDEA: Part B State grants (what you see in your schools for special education) and the Preschool grant programs would be frozen. Part C program for infants and toddlers with disabilities would have a little less than a 1% increase. The president has proposed a $100 million competitive grant program that states could apply for to implement the new Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) monitoring system that the Office of Special Education programs will roll out around June to move from compliance to outcome monitoring.
3) Other big education programs, including Title I (compensatory education) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, would also be frozen.
4) New initiatives include
a) Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity competitive grant programs focused on improving academic performance of students in the highest poverty schools.
b) ConnectEDucators program to help educators transition to using technology and data to personlize learning and improve career-college readiness instruction and assessment.
c) Major emphasis on increasing high-quality preschool programs through the Preschool Development Grants.
PROCESS: Please remember the president's budget proposal is just that -- a proposal! Congress can accept some, all, or none of the president's numbers. The House and Senate appropriations committees are moving into high gear now. We expect the committee leadership to determine the allocations from the large budget pot that will go to the 12 appropriations subcommittees in the next month. SSWAA follows the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee most closely. Once the subcommittees in House and Senate have their allocations, they set about determining which programs will be funded and how much will go to each. Then, as with all congressional legislation, the subcommittee bills go to the full committees, then to the floor of the House and Senate, and finally to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between House and Senate. Labor-HHS-Education is usually one of the last of the appropriations bills to be debated.
We will be keeping you posted on actions needed...and where we are through each step of the process.
SSWAA Legislative Advocacy Team
Your membership dollars at work!