Education Secretary Margaret Spellings yesterday met with national education groups, including NSBA, to discuss the department’s relief response and impact on schools and students, and coordination among groups that are implementing relief efforts. The key points:
1. The Department of Education has created a Web site, Hurricane Help for Schools, to encourage schools to post supply needs and organizations to post items they can donate. Contact information is provided so schools and organizations can directly connect.
2. Regarding funding, the department plans to work with affected states and districts that want to transfer or reallocate funds—across districts. “This could include the transfer of funds to districts in other States that are serving displaced students,” writes Spellings. The department also will work with the Office of Management and Budget as further supplemental relief efforts are made.
3. Regarding NCLB, the department says it will “consider promptly” requests for waivers from those affected. Spellings also indicated Adequate Yearly Progress reporting requirements may be relaxed—but no details as to what that may precisely mean. The department did note it will be flexible on highly qualified teacher requirements, particularly where displaced teachers have begun working in new states. This makes sense considering the different certification standards across states.
4. The department is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine immunization needs of displaced students. In recent days, we’ve seen countless stories of school districts helping to get students back in class by waiving enrollment rules regarding immunization records.
5. Spellings is dispatching Assistant Secretary Henry Johnson, the former Mississippi state superintendent, to the region to determine ongoing needs.
This letter provides more details.
As BoardBuzz noted yesterday, NSBA already has made several general recommendations for Congress to consider regarding schools’ needs.