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Articles in the Legislative advocacy category

School boards urge USDA to provide substantial flexibility in school meals proposal

School lunch

NSBA is encouraging the USDA provide   flexibility on school meals

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to delay or waive implementation of some of the more difficult provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. However, NSBA considers USDA’s School Strike Force draft proposal to provide targeted assistance to a limited number of school food authorities insufficient to fully address the difficulties inherent in the implementation of the law.

In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, NSBA made recommendations to the Strike Force proposal including clarification regarding where in school districts the proposal applies, whether there is a the net gain in resources available, plus the need to defer to local school district governance practices.

NSBA has frequently observed that school meals are provided in the larger context of school district operations that are frequently ignored. In order to restore an accurate perception and understanding of the impact of school meal policy from USDA, the focus on SFAs must be transparent and decisions made in a manner consistent with school district operational procedures already in place.

NSBA has spoken out previously through formal comments; implementation of USDA rules on school meals must acknowledge the cumulative impact of multiple regulatory actions on school districts. Additionally, implementation must reverse policies that redirect state and local funding to the SFA from elsewhere in the district, require school districts to increase prices to students and their families, result in the elimination of staff and services in the SFA or the district as a whole, or regulate school district activity beyond the SFA.

“The law must remain cost neutral to school districts; either by increasing federal funds available to cover increased costs or by regulating in such a way that compliance is possible within current reimbursement rates, including waivers or other temporary measures to allow schools to comply,” said the National School Boards Association’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel in the letter.

Alexis Rice|August 5th, 2014|Categories: Federal Programs, Wellness, Nutrition, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , |

NSBA to Congress: Hands off E-rate

NSBA is urging Congress not to jeopardize Internet, broadband, and Wi-Fi access for millions of students or block improvements to E-rate, the federal program that provides connectivity resources for schools and libraries.

Student access to high-speed Internet connections is critical, and 80 percent of schools currently have slow or an inadequate number of Internet connections. An amendment to limit options for schools and libraries under E-rate would halt progress in providing urgently needed access to students and schools. Such an amendment to the appropriations bill also would hamper the FCC’s efforts to modern the 20-year-old program.

NSBA has written a letter to Congress asking for a “No” vote on any amendments to the E-rate program in HR 5016. As a member of Education and Libraries Network Coalitions (EdLiNC), NSBA is adding its voice to the coalition’s letter to Congress urging the same.

Kathleen Vail|July 15th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Educational Technology, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , |

NSBA names Michael C. Zola as head of federal advocacy and public policy

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced today that veteran education policymaker Michael C. Zola will join the organization as its Associate Executive Director, Federal Advocacy and Public Policy.

Zola will oversee NSBA’s legislative advocacy division, including the National School Boards Action Center, NSBA’s 501(c)(4) organization, and the Center for Public Education, NSBA’s research arm.

“We are very pleased that Michael Zola will lead the National School Boards Association’s federal advocacy initiatives,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Michael’s extensive experience in federal policy and government management will further strengthen NSBA’s relations with Congress and the White House on behalf of state school boards associations and the more than 90,000 school board members across the country.”

Zola comes to NSBA from Capitol Hill, where he was the Deputy Staff Director/Senior Counsel for the Education and the Workforce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Zola previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs and has served as Chief Investigative Counsel for the Education and the Workforce Committee. He also has held several positions in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, including: Assistant Director and Certified Fraud Examiner, Senior Attorney, Legislative Advisor, Senior Foreign Affairs Analyst, and Investigator.

“It is such an honor to lead federal advocacy efforts at the National School Boards Association at such a vital time for America’s public schools,” said Zola.

Zola is a graduate of Catholic University’s Columbia School of Law, the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 10th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Announcements, Federal Programs, Leadership, School Board News, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy, National School Boards Action Center|Tags: , |

School boards call for more sensible school nutrition rules

school lunch

NSBA is calling on Congress and USDA to allow schools flexibility to meet new mandates

As school districts are bearing higher costs and more rigid requirements for school meals, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow schools flexibility to meet new mandates.

New regulations for the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act that take effect July 1, 2014 will further restrict school districts’ abilities to offer a variety of palatable foods for their students. In a press teleconference yesterday, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel noted that the layers of new federal regulations were hampering the goals of the federal school nutrition programs.

For instance, the 2010 law requires schools to increase and analyze the nutritional content of foods not only sold in school cafeterias but also vending machines and other school venues not a part of the federal school meal programs. The law also requires new training and educational standards for food service workers.

“We now see that new reporting and compliance requirements are unfunded and otherwise problematic,” Gentzel said. “School boards now are asking for relief from some of the most inoperable regulations and unintended consequences.”

“School boards across the country know the importance of a healthy school meal,” said NSBA President Anne M. Byrne. “Our schools see many students who do not get good nutrition at home and do not have a steady and dependable supply of healthy foods.”

Students whose families serve less nutritious, low-quality foods are more likely to be obese, added Byrne, a member of the board of the Nanuet Union Free School District in New York and a retired registered nurse. In Nanuet, elementary school students are wasting a lot of nutritious food, such as whole-grain bread, because they are unfamiliar with it, she said.

Byrne and Katy Smith Campbell, President of the Alabama School Boards Association, noted that the new regulations will ban chocolate milk, even though their schools serve low-fat versions. Both agreed they would rather children drink chocolate milk than go without.

“There are no provisions for extra servings,” said Campbell, a member of the Macon County Board of Education in Tuskegee, Ala. “In many cases that’s not enough, especially for athletes.”

The federal law is similar to state regulations, which Alabama districts found have taken several years for students to get used to eating healthier fare. However, Smith-Campbell noted that the federal regulations are more restrictive.

Rocky Ahner of Lehighton Area School Board in Pennsylvania noted that his district began offering low fat, low sugar foods in 2010, and saw their lunch totals tick upwards. However, when the more stringent federal requirements went into effect, the district lost $110,000 because students who were eligible for free- and reduced-price lunches no longer wanted them.

“We are concerned about the kids who don’t buy lunches,” he said.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 24th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, School District Reorganization, Nutrition, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , , , , , , |

White House meeting examines substance use and student achievement

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) joined about 75 education and substance use experts at a White House event to learn about effective programs for K-12 students.

The event was co-hosted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Education.

Leaders from the two agencies showed the impact of substance use on student achievement and gave presentations on evidence-based programs with positive results.

“NSBA is interested in evidence-based programs that would result in increased student achievement among all students, including those who are substance users and in recovery,” said Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Assistant Executive Director for Congressional Relations, who attended the meeting. However, he added, “NSBA cautioned the group that schools and school districts do not have the capacity nor the resources to provide the level of services needed by student substance users and their families.”

NSBA encouraged continued collaboration that would address possible co-location of such services rather than to promote school-sponsored services and potential funding sources beyond local , state, and federal entities, Felton said.

 

 

Staff|June 11th, 2014|Categories: Nutrition, Policy Formation, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|

NSBA encourages U.S. House to support flexibility and regulatory relief for school meals

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is encouraging the U.S. House of Representatives to support for local school district flexibility and modest regulatory relief for school meal programs in the FY 2015 Appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NSBA supports two important measures in the legislation that the House will consider on June 11, 2014:

• Appropriation of $25 million for school meal equipment grants, which will help schools prepare and serve healthier
meals, and improve food safety.
• NSBA also supports a provision requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a process by which a
State shall grant a temporary waiver from compliance with national nutrition standards.

Read the full letter NSBA sent to members of the House today.

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2014|Categories: Federal Programs, Food Service, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , |

NSBA praises the U.S. Senate introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praises the introduction today of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (S. 2451) in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). The legislation would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counterproductive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

“We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, which would ensure that local school boards are able to make sound decisions based on the needs of their students and their communities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Federal regulations that fail to recognize the value of strong local governance put politics before the best interests of our nation’s students.” The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would:

  • Establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by ED on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation;
  • Ensure that local school board concerns and issues are solicited and addressed in the process of creating new federal regulations;
  • Create procedural steps that ED would be required to take prior to initiating any regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials; and
  • Ensure that ED’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are supportable at the local level.

The new Senate legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 1386 introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has 43 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors. The House’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, H.R. 5, approved by the full House last summer, also includes key provisions of H.R. 1386. NSBA is encouraging school board members to contact their senators to support passage of this legislation.

“The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act will give state and local school boards a voice in how the federal government issues regulations and guidelines for education,” said Inhofe. “It’s time for the Department of Education to be accountable to the parents, teachers, and local elected officials who work first hand with our nation’s children. Education needs are unique to each community, and in order to give the next generation of Americans a better future and wealth of opportunities, my legislation will give state and local school boards the authority they need to carry out the education goals that are best suited for their children.”

Recently, Inhofe received NSBA’s top Congressional honor, the Congressional Special Recognition Award, for his leadership to advance America’s public education. Watch the video of the award presentation:

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized, School Boards, Educational Legislation, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , , |

E-Rate must expand, focus on neediest schools, coalition says

The E-rate program needs a major funding boost to meet demand and should continue its focus on high-need school districts and libraries, a letter signed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC should permanently raise the E-rate’s annual funding cap, now at $2.4 billion, as annual demand is estimated to be double that amount, the letter states. Further, the program must be expanded to ensure adequate bandwidth reaches every classroom and student–not just the school building door, which was the program’s intent when it was first created to provide low-cost connectivity as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The letter was sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and four other commissioners by EdLiNC, The Education and Libraries Networks Coalition, which advocates for the E-rate program on behalf of national education associations. It was signed by NSBA and 18 other organizations.

The lack of support for internal connections “is creating major roadblocks” for students and educators to have enough bandwidth to participate in activities such as online research or digital learning classes, the letter states.

The letter also urges the FCC to continue the E-rate’s poverty-based funding formula rather than proposed allocations that would spread funding by students, buildings, or school districts.

“A change to the current funding formula would undermine the E-rate program’s focus on equity for the nation’s underserved schools and communities, particularly those in rural areas,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The E-rate has been tremendously successful in helping high-poverty and rural areas access technology, and the FCC should build on that success by increasing funding to meet demand.”

The FCC is considering changes to the program and is expected to issue a Report and Order to modernize E-Rate sometime this year. For more information, read NSBA’s Issue Brief on the E-rate.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|May 29th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Programs, Educational Finance, Budgeting, Legislative advocacy, Online learning, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , |

NSBA urges U.S. House members to oppose school voucher bill

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel sent a letter today to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them not to support the CHOICE Act as it would provide federal resources for voucher schemes and fund private schools that are not fully accountable to the same laws and civil rights that govern public schools.

Representatives Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) are expected to introduce the CHOICE ACT on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The bill would provide vouchers to students educated under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students who reside in military installations, and students enrolled or waiting for vouchers through the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.

The letter notes:

On behalf of the 90,000 school board members who govern our nation’s public school districts which educate nearly 50 million students, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is writing in strong opposition to the CHOICE Act (Creating Hope and Opportunities for Individuals and Communities through Education Act) that is scheduled for introduction on May 29. Therefore, we urge you not to support the CHOICE Act.

NSBA urges Congress to maximize resources for our public schools, which serve all students regardless of gender, disability or economic status, and adhere to federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards. Hence, NSBA opposes private school vouchers and urges Congress to reject using any federal funds or incentives for a national voucher program, including any special education vouchers for military children and/or specific subgroups of ,students. NSBA also opposes amendments to make vouchers part of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or other legislation.

An overwhelming majority (70 percent) of Americans oppose private school vouchers, according to the 2013 PDK Gallup poll. Likewise, based on the policies adopted by our Delegate Assembly, NSBA opposes any efforts to subsidize tuition or expenses at elementary or secondary private, religious, or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools. Public funds should not be used directly or indirectly through tax credits, vouchers, or a choice system to fund education at any elementary and/or secondary private, parochial, or home school.

NSBA supports federal investments in our public school students and applauds Congress’ work to improve our nation’s public schools.

Alexis Rice|May 28th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, Privatization, School Vouchers, Policy Formation, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: |

School boards encourage local school district flexibility for school meals

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is encouraging the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations to provide funding for school kitchen equipment modernization and flexibility for school districts struggling with child nutrition regulations. Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA, sent a letter today regarding NSBA’s concerns on school meals to Appropriations committee members before they consider FY 2015 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vote on this is expected to happen on Thursday, May 29, 2014.

The letter notes:

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), representing more than 90,000 local school board members across the nation, working with and through our state school boards associations, writes to express support for local school district flexibility and modest regulatory relief for school meal programs in the FY 2015 Appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Students need healthy meals and adequate nutrition to achieve their potential in the classroom, and school board members are committed to ensuring all students are prepared to learn. However, school boards cannot ignore the higher costs and operational issues created by
mandates in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (PL 111-296). Therefore, NSBA supports two important measures in the legislation that the Committee will consider on May 29, 2014:

• NSBA supports the appropriation of $25 million for school meal equipment grants, which will help schools prepare and serve healthier meals, and improve food safety.

• NSBA also supports a provision requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a process by which a state shall grant a temporary waiver from compliance with national nutrition standards.

The waiver provision offers relief to school districts from some of the federal mandates that have led to soaring operational costs along with other unintended consequences, such as plate waste and reduced participation.

NSBA looks forward to working with Congress and the Secretary to assure that school districts can successfully comply with the law and also serve the very best meals and provide excellent nutrition to children.

Alexis Rice|May 28th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Federal Programs, Nutrition, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , , |
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