Article submitted by the Minnesota AASA Governing Board Members
When it comes to federal education policy, right now we are in a sort of limbo, and AASA is tracking a few important things:
- Annual Appropriations: FY22 started on Oct 1, but Congress has yet to finalize funding levels. The President, House and Senate have all proposed budgets that prioritize education and include significant increases for critical formula programs like Title I and IDEA. The challenge is that there is a temptation to slow the process and hold funding where it has been in the past. While year-long holds on funding were a safer thing under the previous administration to help protect against education cuts, we are opposed in this scenario. We need clear messaging to Capitol Hill to finish the appropriations process in normal order, and to include the proposed education increases. And, as soon as that dust settles, Congress will pivot to the FY23 budget process, which usually kicks off in February.
- Head Start: We are waiting additional clarification from HHS detailing how Head Start will be impacted by the vaccine mandate for employers. On November 30, 2021, HHS implemented an interim rule establishing a COVID-19 vaccine and masking mandate for Head Start programs. The masking requirement took effect immediately while the vaccine mandate required Head Start teachers, staff, and contractors working directly with children to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 31, 2022. 24 states challenged the rule, and on January 1, 2022, a federal district judge blocked the vaccine requirement for Head Start employees in the states that signed onto the lawsuit. (AK, AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, UT, WV, and WY. ) TX filed a separate law suit, meaning that 25 states are exempt from the vaccine mandate in Head Start programs, but the remaining 50 states are subject to the provision. We are awaiting further clarification on what that implementation will look like.
- School Meal Flexibilities: AASA is committed to extending the school meal flexibilities in place under COVID through the 2022-23 school year. The current flexibilities last through the 2021-22 school year; anticipating continued disruptions due to COVID, and the fact that child hunger won’t end just because the pandemic may subside or become endemic, it is critical Congress take action to extend the flexibilities, either in an appropriations bill, a revised version of the Build Back Better package, or (less likely) a school meal reauthorization.
MN AASA Governing Board Members
Elk River Area Schools
Sleepy Eye Schools