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Education Spending Slated for $1.2 Billion Boost in Congressional Budget Deal

UPDATED

Title I aid for the nation's neediest students would get a $500 million boost up to approximately $14.9 billion, while state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would rise by $415 million up to $11.9 billion, as part of an omnibus federal budget deal announced by the House appropriations committee early Wednesday.

Those and other spending increases are part of an overall budget increase for the U.S. Department of Education of $1.2 billion. The agreement is expected to move through Congress in coming days and win approval from the White House. UPDATE: After being previously approved in the House, the omnibus budget was approved by the Senate on Friday. 

In addition, Head Start, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would get a $570 million increase up to $9.2 billion in fiscal 2016 under the omnibus budget, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant under HHS would also rise by $326 million up to $2.8 billion. The total increase for education spending is about 2 percent, up to about $68 billion.

"We're particularly pleased that very few programs were cut," said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding.

Title I program evaluation, however, would be cut by just short of $1 million, and the Transition to Teaching program would be eliminated. 

Although the recently signed Every Student Succeeds Act eliminates the School Improvement Grant program which was expanded and revamped by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, it does receive funding for fiscal 2016 in the new spending bill to the tune of $450 million. That's a decrease, however, from the $506 million it got in fiscal 2015. So the SIG program will be able to continue for at least another budget year.

And another Obama initiative, Investing in Innovation, known as i3, would be flat-funded at $120 million for fiscal 2016. (ESSA includes a similar research-based program.)

The budget agreement also clarifies that formula-funded grant programs will continue to operate under the previous reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) for the 2016-17 academic year. In short, ESSA isn't really relevant for this bill. 

As I wrote last week, there was some concern that federal education spending would be left out of any omnibus budget deal, and would instead be subject to a continuing resolution until at least March, thanks to controversial non-education budget "riders." That would have frozen education funding levels and created greater uncertainty at the state and local level for schools. 

Packer's glad that scenario didn't play out. "This helps us turn the corner," he said.

Wondering what else made it into the omnibus budget deal for education, and how much additional money various programs got? See the list covering several programs below:

  • Charter school grants would receive an additional $80 million, up to $333 million.
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress would receive an additional $20 million.
  • The Striving Readers program would receive an additional $30 million, up to $190 million.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers would receive an additional $15 million.
  • Impact Aid would receive an additional $17 million, up to $1.3 billion.
  • Promise Neighborhoods would receive an additional $16.5 million, up to $73 million.
  • Safe and Drug-Free Schools and National Programs would receive an additional $5 million, up to $75 million.
  • Rural education would receive an additional $6 million, up to $176 million.

Investing in Innovation, or i3, received flat funding from fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2016 of $120 million.

"These numbers, I predict, are going to be fairly similar to what we get next year," Packer said.

The Committee for Education funding also released an Omnibus Funding Table detailing the new appropriations levels for various K-12 programs. (One note: the Title I funding figure in the right-most column on the table should read $14.9 billion, the figure that reflects the appropriation level in the budget deal.) Click the preceding link for the table. 


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