Whiteboard Notes | DeVos Moves to Restructure Budget Office; FL Supts. Call for Special Session; NY Requires School-Level Financial Transparency

DeVos Moves to Restructure Budget Office: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos moved forwardthis week with her plan to restructure the Department of Education’s central budgeting office, over the objections of the White House Office of Management and Budget. While OMB had been mostly supportive of the Secretary's moves to restructure the Department, Politico reports that inside sources say they have been urging against reorganizing the budgeting process. The Secretary has proposed embedding budget staff within the policy and program units of the Department.

House Authorizes $50 Million for Anti-Violence Training: The House of Representatives this week passed a measure that would authorize $50 million in spending towards violence-prevention training programs for teachers and school staff. The bill received bipartisan support in the House, and will now go to a conference committee for reconciliation with a similar bill passed in the Senate.

Tracking Higher Education Act Reauthorization: House Republicans’ proposed bill--which passed the House Education and Workforce Committee in December--to reauthorize the Higher Education Act would increase colleges’ liability to repay federal aid when students drop out, according to a new analysis fromInside Higher Ed. While the current system prorates colleges’ aid liability, requiring them to pay back a percentage of aid equal to the percentage of the term the student did not attend, the new system would institute tiers for repayment, rounding up to the nearest quartile when determining how much aid colleges must repay. This aspect of the proposal drew rebuke from the National Governors Association, asking Congress to defer to the states on repayment policy. For more on the House PROSPER Act, check outthis overview in EdSurge from W/A's Alison Griffin.  

Florida Superintendents Call for Special Legislative Session on School Funding: Following the end of the regular legislative session on Sunday, Florida school superintendents called for lawmakers to return for a special session to reassess funding for the K-12 system in the state budget bill delivered to Governor Rick Scott (R) on Wednesday. While the budget includes a total increase in per-pupil spending, superintendents are concerned that most of the increased funding can only be used for school security purposes, leaving little for core operating budgets. Governor Scott’s office declined the request for a special session, emphasizing the importance of funding for school safety.

New York Requires School-Level Financial Transparency: In response to the Every Student Succeeds Act’s financial transparency provisions, New York state officials will require all districts in the state to publicly report school spending by December 2019. Currently, financial reports include the amount of funding that the state provides to districts, but districts will soon be required to also report how they allocate funds amongst their schools. The state plans to package the financial information in a format that allows policymakers and community members to easily compare and contrast budgets and resources across schools.

Washington Legislature Sends Budget Bill Sent to Governor, Court Calls for Teacher Pay Raises:Washington state legislators sent Governor Jay Inslee (D) an appropriations bill that would add $750 million to K-12 public schools for the 2018-2019 school year. In response to the proposed budget, the Washington Supreme Court has threatened to take action if the state fails to raise teacher salaries. While the state previously raised taxes in an effort to increase the average teacher pay ($60,000) by Fall 2019, the court plans to shut down schools or increase other sanctions if salaries aren’t increased by Fall 2018. Governor Inslee has until March 31 to act on legislation or it becomes law without signature.