Weekly NewsBrief 8/17/20 - 8/23/20

News Clip


As school starts, California districts try to improve virtual special education – By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

As schools in California begin re-opening virtually, state education officials have taken steps to improve distance learning for a group of students who were largely left behind in the spring: Those in special education.

But some parents wonder if distance learning will ever work well for students with disabilities.

The most significant new law, passed in June as part of the state budget, requires districts to craft distance learning plans for all students in special education, tailored to each student’s unique needs. The plans will apply to any emergency that forces a school to close for 10 days or more, including wildfires, earthquakes and pandemics.

The plans will be part of a student’s individualized education program, or IEP. Teachers, parents, therapists, counselors and other staff will create the plan during a student’s regularly scheduled IEP review, if not sooner.

“Finally, there’s something for parents to point at that guarantees a distance learning plan as part of an IEP,” said Robert Borrelle, an attorney for Disability Rights California, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities. “Before this, some districts were doing nothing.”


UW System wants to cover tuition for in-state students from families below median income – By Kelly Myerhofer, Wisconsin State Journal

The University of Wisconsin System wants nearly $100 million more in the next state budget to cushion COVID-19’s financial blow to campuses and cover tuition for Wisconsin students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year.

Interim System President Tommy Thompson is also asking for the ability to borrow up to $1 billion over the next school year to help universities, which are hemorrhaging money from lost revenues and additional costs as they scramble to safely reopen in early September.

Considering the small funding increases the System has received in recent years during a strong economy and the state’s current shaky economic landscape, Thompson admitted the budget request, his first true test as president since taking over July 1, is ambitious. But the former four-term governor with wide bipartisan appeal said universities are best equipped to drive the state’s economy through the pandemic.

“This is a big, bold, aggressive budget that I think is going to meet the needs of our time,” he told reporters Tuesday in a video news conference. “If you were looking at a way to grow yourself out of a financial dilemma, wouldn’t you go to an area that’s going to give you the biggest return possible? ... Who’s a better job creator than the University of Wisconsin?”


No Stimulus Deal: Senators Leave Washington For Summer Recess – By Zack Friedman, Forbes

After Congress could not finalize a stimulus deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the Senate will adjourn today. Here’s the latest on what this means and what happens next.

Why did the Senate adjourn?

The Senate adjourned for summer recess. The summer recess officially began after August 7, but McConnell extended the Senate’s sessions through today in hopes of finalizing a stimulus package. Without a deal, the Senate adjourned and senators will depart Washington, D.C. “We will have our regular pro forma meetings through the end of the state work period,” McConnell said. “If the Speaker of the House and the minority leader of the Senate decide to finally let another package move forward, it would take bipartisan consent to meet for legislative business sooner than scheduled,” McConnell said.

When is Congress back in session?

The Senate will next be in session on September 8, 2020. The House of Representatives will next be in session on September 14, 2020.

What happens between then and now?

Congress could still reach a stimulus deal in the interim before September, although the chances are slim. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are representing Republicans and the White House in discussions with Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are representing Democrats.

Are there active meetings now to finalize a stimulus bill?

No, there are no active, ongoing meetings to finalize a stimulus bill. The lead negotiators last met on Friday, August 7. Mnuchin also called Pelosi on Wednesday. It’s unclear when they will meet again.


Va. Department of Education grants Hampton Schools more than $1.9M in funding – By Madison Pearlman, WAVY.com

A local school district was selected to receive nearly $2 million in funding this coming school year from the Virginia Department of Education for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program.

Officials say Hampton City Schools are accepting the $1.9 million grant, which will go toward operating the 21st CCLC program before and after school, during school breaks, Saturdays, and during summer vacation.

The following schools have been awarded the grants:

  • Bassette Elementary School – $195,272
  • Forrest Elementary School – $195,272
  • Tyler Elementary School – $195,272
  • Lindsay Middle School – $172,272

The schools will receive the grant funding each year for a total of three years.

The schools will join a list of others who were previously funded by 21st Century last year which include:

  • Aberdeen Elementary School — $139,875
  • Bryan Elementary School –$189,416
  • Cary Elementary School –$189,416
  • Kraft Elementary School –$195,272
  • Machen Elementary School –$141,059
  • Syms Middle School –$189,416
  • Tarrant Middle School –$189,416


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