This week Congress passed legislation to finalize appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The bill includes $70.9 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Education (ED), which is an increase of $3.9 billion, or 6 percent, from the FY2017 enacted funding level. The bill includes significant increases for both K-12 and higher education programs.
HOUSE and SENATE
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Appropriations on her agency’s FY2019 budget request.
The Senate confirmed Mark Schneider for a six-year term to be Director of the Institute of Education Sciences.
The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Appropriations will accept written testimony from outside witnesses on FY2019 appropriations. Submissions are due by June 1, 2018.
Secretary DeVos released the application for State educational agencies (SEAs) to apply for initial funding under the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (Restart) program. The release follows the Secretary’s recent announcement of $2.7 billion in Federal assistance to help K-12 school districts and schools as well as institutions of higher education in their recovery efforts from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the 2017 California Wildfires.
Secretary DeVos announced new details on the Federal Commission on School Safety the President appointed her to chair. The Commission has been charged with providing meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school. Accordingly, the Commission will be comprised of department heads whose agencies have jurisdiction over key school safety issues: Secretary DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. The first organizational meeting will be Wednesday, March 28 in Washington, D.C. to discuss the scope of the Commission’s work, timeline, locations for meetings and topics for field hearings.
A group representing student loan servicers filed suit against Washington, D.C. over its State law requiring these servicers to disclose information about their activities and be licensed to operate within the District. The suit is based on ED’s notice stating that State oversight of Federal student loan services under contract with the agency is preempted by Federal law.
This week the White House sent to the Senate the nomination of Mark Schultz to be Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration at ED. Schultz is currently a Deputy Commissioner in the Nebraska Department of Education and he previously served as the Nebraska Director of Vocational Rehabilitation.
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