While the American Association of Administrators and National Head Start Association applauded the Senate passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2013, both groups urged Congress to continue investing in K-12 education — and particularly those programs designed to serve the nation’s neediest children.
“The entire Head Start community is grateful for the passage of The Bipartisan Budget Act,” the NHSA stated. “While it does not fully restore funding lost to sequestration’s indiscriminate and considerable cuts, it puts us solidly on a path forward to repair the damage these cuts have had on at-risk children and families. We look forward to continued work with our bipartisan supporters in Congress to ensure that investments in our most vulnerable children remain a priority.”
Since sequestration took effect last spring, Head Start agencies nationwide were forced to eliminate spots for thousands of preschool students because of the automatic 5-percent budget cut to federally funded programs. The Administration for Children and Families recently released estimates for FY2014 on how the sequester would result in reduced services, such as transportation, for preschool children from low-income families and estimated that 57,265 students had already been cut from Head Start rosters.
In its statement, AASA noted that Congress acted to provide funding levels that will restore a large share of the sequester cuts for FY14, “funds that will prove vital for schools in the 2014-2015 school year.”
But the school superintendents association emphasized that Congress’ work is not over. As the BBA resets the clock on the annual appropriations process, lawmakers now face the difficult task of allocating the funds across all aspects of government.
AASA pressed Congress to advance education bills that prioritize investment in the cornerstone of federal K-12 education policy, Title I LEA grants and IDEA Part B grants.
“It is imperative that these critical formula programs be funded at levels not less than the pre-sequestration levels of 2013,” the association stated.
“In a time of limited federal resources, AASA believes that federal education investments must be targeted to the programs and policies that best advance the federal government’s commitment to leveling the education playing field, the programs that have the biggest impact on school district budgets and the programs that best address the needs of the nation’s public schools and neediest students: Title I and IDEA.”
Public schools serving high numbers of Title I, IDEA and Impact Aid student populations were hit especially hard by the sequester, with some facing budget cuts of up to 10 percent. Additionally, the Department of Defense Education Activity, which oversees U.S. military schools, reported that federal funding for pupil transportation was reduced by 10 percent worldwide for 2013-2014.
STN will provide updates on budgetary issues for these programs as they become available. Stay tuned!