Weekly NewsBrief 1/31/22 - 2/6/22

News Clip


All K-12 schools plan to spend emergency relief funds on this item in 2022 – By Chris Burt, District Administration

How are local districts planning to spend their critical Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funds?

The majority—whether in cities, suburbs, towns or rural locations—plan to devote key portions to boost their academic workforce. That’s no surprise given how challenged school districts nationwide have been in retaining and maintaining educator and substitute levels before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there are plenty of differences among those different subgroups when it comes to the monies they’ll outlay toward other needs. They are nicely outlined in a study done by the think tank FutureEd, which closely surveyed data of around 2,500 districts provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

For example, while transportation will be a key target for rural districts, it won’t garner nearly the same attention in suburban districts. City systems are far more likely to be spending on connectivity than those in towns. And both city and suburban districts will devote nearly double what rural districts plan to invest in mental health and social-emotional learning.


Cutoff looms for Congress to extend USDA nutrition waiver authority – By Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

With organizations such as FRAC, No Kid Hungry and the School Nutrition Association urging Congress to extend USDA’s authority to continue issuing waivers, FitzSimons said she’s hoping that power will be granted in the next omnibus federal spending bill as early as February.

Alongside FRAC, No Kid Hungry and SNA, some 20 other nationwide organizations sent a joint letter Jan. 25 to leaders on the House and Senate Appropriations committees about the USDA waiver authority as the June 30 deadline looms. The letter emphasized COVID-19 is far from over and pointed out the pandemic has caused frequent school closures and required students to quarantine and miss meals.

“This arbitrary deadline means that summer meal programs will not be able to operate under the same program rules through the entire summer, forcing many providers to stop serving meals or shut down altogether and leaving millions of children without access to healthy meals,” the letter said.

Schools don’t know if they’ll be operating under the current waivers as they plan for the next school year, prepare bids for food purchasing and write new menus, said Jillien Meier, director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign. The campaign is part of Share Our Strength, an organization focused on ending hunger and poverty. 


Florida to invest $89 million in workforce training for state colleges, school districts – By Divya Kumar, The Miami Herald

At a news conference Wednesday in Gainesville, home of the state’s flagship university, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an $89 million state initiative to boost career and technical training for students who decide against a traditional college degree.

“Yes, we like the state universities, the state colleges, it’s great, but so much of the career and technical has moved out of high schools, where it used to be a staple,” the governor said. “It seems like over the last generation it was de-emphasized.”

The new investment will address that, he said, adding that the state has spent $3.5 billion on workforce education and training initiatives since he took office in 2019. The latest infusion of money is earmarked for state colleges and school districts.


Indiana pre-K students see academic benefits through fourth grade, study shows- By Stephanie Wang, Chalkbeat

Advocates are cheering the first studies on Indiana’s prekindergarten voucher program, highlighting the potential lasting academic benefits while also noting areas for improvement.

A long-term study of On My Way Pre-K found its students were better prepared for kindergarten and scored slightly higher on ILEARN than children from similar low-income backgrounds. But the research also raised questions about the state’s child care rating system, a cornerstone of On My Way Pre-K meant to ensure quality.

A second report from a new kindergarten readiness assessment showed children in On My Way Pre-K programs met national targets for 29% of literacy skills and 40% of math skills, suggesting that they have not fully caught up to students from higher income families. The assessment also identified disparities between students of different races.

“We believe that it shows us that yes, we’re on the right path, but there are opportunities to build on that,” said Anne Valentine, vice president of government relations for the United Way of Central Indiana. “The fact that On My Way students outperformed on school readiness and literacy — that alone is an excellent start for those families.”