November 25, 2013
The House and Senate budget conference committee charged with reaching an agreement on the FY2014 budget framework, including an alternative to the sequester by December 13, continues to negotiate. Regardless of whether the budget conference committee is able to reach a deal, Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution (CR) by January 15, 2014 to keep the government open through the remainder of the fiscal year. We expect more activity and press coverage of the budget conference committee after the Thanksgiving holiday and we’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
National Alliance Leads Coalition of Charter School Leaders, Urges Obama Administration to Increase Charter Schools Program Funding
Earlier this month, a coalition of leaders in the charter school and education reform community sent letters to the Administration requesting $330 million for the federal Charter Schools Program, which is currently funded at $241 million. Sixty state charter support organizations and charter management organizations signed the letter. In addition, nine national education reform advocacy groups, including the National Alliance, sent a separate letter asking for $330 million. Read our full press release, with links to the letters.
National Alliance Continues Push in the U.S. Senate on Department of Defense Recruitment of Students Attending Online Charter Schools
In June, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prohibit the Department of Defense from requiring students who attend online charter schools and homeschools to score higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test than students at traditional public schools. Last week, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were successful in their efforts to include a similar amendment to the Senate NDAA. We expect further activity on this legislation in December, when the Senate returns to complete its consideration of the bill.
National Alliance Asks U.S. Department of Ed to Clarify Nonregulatory Guidance for the Federal Charter Schools Program (CSP)
The National Alliance has asked for clarification of fiscal reporting requirements that apply to charter schools that receive funds from federal education grant programs, including but not limited to the CSP grant. In April 2011, the Department issued revised guidance related to OMB Circulars A-87 and A-122, and our work with charter school operators and CSOs indicate that that additional clarity is necessary. We have requested uniform guidance and technical assistance for the charter school community to ensure compliance with federal fiscal reporting requirements. Read our letter here.
Department of Education Revises ESEA Waiver Renewal Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that they have rescinded the No Child Left Behind waiver guidance that was released in August. Instead of responding to 13 pages of requirements, the November 14 letter from Assistant Secretary Delisle informed states that they now simply need to indicate they are meeting the terms of their original waiver agreement and describe how the flexibility is helping to increase student achievement. In addition, states must resolve any state-specific issues and “next steps” identified as a result of ED’s monitoring, as well as other outstanding issues related to ESEA flexibility. Waiver renewals will now only last for one year, rather than the two-year extension that was originally proposed. Read the U.S. Department of Education’s letter to Chief State School Officers for more information.
Impact of Federal Education Cuts on School Districts
The American Association of School Superintendents (AASA) has released a report examining school districts’ reliance on federal dollars. Sequester cuts affected all school districts receiving federal funds, but some districts were hit harder than others because of states’ varying levels of dependency on federal funding. With data based on the 2011-2012 (pre-sequester) school year, the average U.S. school district received 11.8 percent of their revenue from the federal government, but the range is wide. The average district in New Jersey only received 4.3 percent of their revenue from the federal government, but Mississippi districts relied on the federal government for a quarter (24.8 percent) of their total revenue. You can access the full report, Unequal Pain: Federal Public Education Revenues, Federal Education Cuts & the Impact on Public Schools, from the AASA website.