Legislative Priorities for the 115th Congress

On behalf of our nation's state school boards associations and their 90,000 local school board members, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is advancing efforts to support the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in our public school districts and to modernize vital programs that provide resources needed for our students to excel academically, professionally and civically. The historic enactment of ESSA (Public Law 114-95) marked a turning point in our nation and communities to restore local governance and facilitate locally driven ideas that encourage greater innovation and opportunity for our students and schools. In addition to continued oversight of ESSA implementation, NSBA urges legislative action to accomplish priorities for child nutrition, career and technical education, and federal education investments. Please reference the following priorities to help inform the ongoing national dialogue of advancing equity and excellence in public education in the 115th Congress as our school districts work to provide all students with a world-class public education.

Child Nutrition Act: Helping Ensure a Healthy Learning Environment for Students

NSBA urges Congress and the new Administration to enact a bipartisan child nutrition programs reauthorization that grants flexibility and relief for school districts to successfully administer school meal programs by: 1) increasing reimbursement levels and other federal funds to cover the cost of compliance; and/or 2) authorizing local school districts to make implementation feasible within available federal resources, such as increasing flexibility for whole grain content and sodium reduction targets and increasing stakeholder engagement (including school boards) in policy and implementation.

School board members are committed to fostering a healthy and positive learning environment for our students to achieve their full potential; and, child nutrition is a top priority for student health. The last reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (Public Law 111-296) — occurred December 13, 2010, and reauthorized six major nutrition programs, including school breakfast and lunch.

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act: Expanding Opportunities for College- and Career-Readiness

NSBA urges Congress' strong support for swift passage of a bipartisan reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that includes provisions for a strong academic component and credentialing programs that will help our nation's school districts continue efforts to advance 21st Century skills and knowledge to meet the needs of both students and employers, and provide practical training through apprenticeships and other opportunities.

Congress has begun efforts to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, exploring options to help school districts and states integrate stronger academic components; facilitate greater career pathways and credentialing; and, strengthen partnerships among school districts, higher education and businesses. Last reauthorized in 2006, this law provides states and districts with more than $1 billion annually in federal investments for programs designed to prepare students for a wide variety of careers.

Federal Education Investments: Appropriations for Fiscal Years 2017-18

NSBA urges Congress' passage of a final Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill that maximizes the investments in special education, Title I grants for disadvantaged students, and related education programs that our students need for a strong future. Additionally, NSBA urges Congress' bipartisan efforts to avert further across-the-board budget cuts to education in FY2018 and future fiscal years that impact the success of our students, school districts and communities.

The budget and appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2017 is halfway complete, pending a subsequent appropriations measure that must be enacted after the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution (Public Law 114-254) on April 28, 2017. Looking to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there are two major issues: 1) preventing another round of across-the-board budget cuts (sequestration) governed by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and 2) prioritizing federal investments in Title I, special education (IDEA), and related education programs.

Educational Choice: Supporting America’s Public Schools

NSBA urges Congress to support the range of choices offered by our nation's public school districts, which educate more than 50 million students. We urge both Congress and the Administration to encourage and advance a balanced dialogue on evidence based choice options to help inform our nation's efforts to assure every child is prepared for college, careers and citizenship. Likewise, we urge efforts to "level the playing field" so that all schools that receive public funds are held to the same accountability standards and can be appropriately compared.

From local magnet schools and charter schools authorized by local school boards to public specialty schools, such as military academies and those offering specialized curricula for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), many of our public school districts provide numerous options for educational choice that promote success in student achievement and school performance, thereby preparing our students for college and careers. NSBA urges full accountability of the use of public funds for any educational purpose and believes that public funds should be used within public schools to advance curricula and choice, including charter schools authorized by local school boards. NSBA also believes that 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.

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