The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill on July 13 that would give local school boards greater flexibility within certain federal programs.
NSBA supports the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which would allow school boards to re-direct federal funds from some education programs to support other initiatives that would help increase student achievement and help serve the students with the greatest needs. The legislation is one of several parts of a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) is spearheading. (Read NSBA’s letter of support here.)
“For many years local school boards have asked for expanded flexibility to best meet their students’ needs,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Public Policy. “At a time when districts are facing tight budget constraints and increased accountability under federal and state laws, this legislation would help school leaders to meet those obligations.”
The measure would expand two existing provisions: The Rural Education Achievement Program, which gives greater flexibility to rural school districts in the redistribution of federal funds; and Transferability Provisions, designed to give greater flexibility to all local school districts to re-direct federal funds from certain selected programs to support other initiatives. The bill would expand such flexibility to all local school boards as well as expand the number of the federal programs where federal funds could be re-directed.
School districts will continue to be accountable for achievement of students from low-income families, English language learners, and other at-risk groups under federal, state, and local accountability requirements. The measure would not remove achievement goals or requirements for program compliance, including civil rights.
The committee last month passed a bill increasing federal funding for charter schools and school choice as part of the ESEA reauthorization. Kline is planning to put forth two more bills as part of the ESEA reauthorization, which will deal with accountability and teacher issues, then bundle the measures into one package for a vote by the full House of Representatives. Resnick said that final language may need to be modified once other related bills have been approved by the Education and the Workforce Committee.
“It is important that federal education programs meet their goals of focusing on the students with the greatest needs,” said Resnick. “Even in these tough economic times, school boards are ensuring that student achievement is increasing for all students.”