Education Stimulus Bill Advances in the House of Representatives
On Wednesday, the House Education and Labor Committee approved a COVID relief bill that includes more than $170 billion in additional education relief. The fast-moving package is part of a larger budget reconciliation process which enables the Senate to pass a bill by a simple majority rather than the typical 60-vote threshold.
Congressional Democrats are moving swiftly to design and pass a package that aligns with the COVID-relief priorities outlined by President Biden. The education bill includes $130 billion through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the Education Stabilization Fund for reopening K-12 schools safely and addressing learning loss. Uses of these new funds include but are not limited to ventilation systems, reducing class size, implementing social distancing, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff "to care for students' health and well-being.”
Twenty percent of school funding must be set aside for evidence-based strategies to address learning loss, including summer learning, extended school days, and extended school years. $40 billion is dedicated to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, of which at least 50 percent must be reserved for emergency financial aid grants to prevent hunger, homelessness, and other hardships that students are facing because of the pandemic. Also included in the package is $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to carry out research addressing COVID-related learning loss.
There is no targeted funding provided for special education.
Additional education-related priorities that are expected to be woven into the larger reconciliation package but fall into other Committee jurisdictions include $7.6 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (E-rate) to help close the homework gap, and $350 billion in state and local aid to shore up budgets that will impact state and local school funding.
To learn more about the House Education and Labor COVID relief package, go here.
While the education package allows districts to target funds to support students with disabilities as a named subgroup under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it does not include targeted funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To create momentum around dedicated IDEA funding, Congress reintroduced the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID Act last week. The bill, which CEC has endorsed, would provide one-time emergency funding for IDEA.
As Congress moves quickly to negotiate a new COVID stimulus package, lawmakers need to hear your support for dedicated IDEA funding ASAP! Follow the link to our one-step action alert to make your voice heard.
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