Larger allocations to the Department of Education are a positive for the companies that provide goods and services to schools, although growing emphasis on issues like school safety diverts funds that might otherwise be used to support instruction in the classroom.
Discretionary funding for the Department of Education in fiscal 2018, ending Sept. 30, will be $70.87 billion, up 5.9% from fiscal 2017, as a result of the omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress in March. The bill raised statutory budget caps for fiscal 2018 and 2019 and allocated federal money through the end of September.
Title I, the cornerstone of the federal government’s efforts to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, will receive $15.76 billion, up 1.9% from fiscal year 2017. Special education IDEA funding of $12.28 billion for fiscal 2018 is up 2.3% from fiscal 2017. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is funded at $1.21 billion for fiscal 2018, up 1.7% from fiscal 2017.
Funding for education in fiscal 2018 differs drastically from the Trump blueprint proposed in March 2017 that called for an 8.8% drop in discretionary funding to $59 billion for fiscal 2018 and from the 2019 plan put forth in February that requested $61.48 billion for fiscal 2019. The Trump proposal asked for less money for after-school programs and for efforts to enforce civil rights in schools; it called for more money for school choice, charters and magnets.
There is no new funding for vouchers or choice initiatives in the final budget, although the Charter School Grant program was funded at $400 million, up $52 million from fiscal 2017. Funding for the Department’s Office of Civil Rights also increased, up $8.5 million.
The omnibus bill funds the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 with provisions for training students, teachers, administrators and local law enforcement to help them identify threats. It also includes grants for metal detectors, new locks and emergency notification systems. Critics of the bill noted it did not address the issue of gun safety reforms.
For more information about policy and funding at the federal and state levels, see https://www.simbainformation.com/PreK-Budget-Policy-Outlook-11585704/.