Delivered via email: July 13, 2020
CARES ACT FUNDS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS UPDATEAs referenced in the last Federal Legislative Report (116-16) the provision was included to allow districts to choose to only spend the funds on low income students to avoid the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) provision requiring funds used for all students to also be available to all private school students. However, there is significant concern that documentation of those separate expenditures will never meet the approval of the USDE.
Please see the letter to Secretary DeVos, letter to Congressional leaders, and talking points and consider submitting comments regarding this proposal at the link in (116-16).
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE LEGISLATIONIn April, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance stating that under the CARES Act reimbursing employers “must pay their bill in full” prior to receiving a 50% reimbursement. Paying 100% of the bill before getting relief is going to be difficult for many under the present circumstances.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced and passed out of the Senate on July 2, legislation (S. 4209) that will allow districts to not have to pay up front, which will significantly streamline the unemployment insurance process regarding reimbursement for school districts. Senator Dick Durbin is a co-sponsor.
The legislation now moves to the House. Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support this bill and push for its passage. Also, please contact Senator Durbin and thank him for co-sponsoring this very important piece of legislation.
Additionally, for Illinois specific guidance on unemployment insurance, please visit this Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) webpage, and view a recording of the webinar conducted by Kevin Lovellette, IDES chief legal counsel.
WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT ON SCHOOL REOPENINGOn Tuesday, the White House hosted a half-day Summit on Safely Reopening America’s Schools. Secretary DeVos said, “the Administration expects children to be back in their learning environments this fall – and urged decision-makers to think practically about the consequences if children do not return to the classroom this year.” Included in her comments were references to an expectation that schools reopen in the fall with full-time five day-a-week learning, and the ability of the USDE to withhold certain funds from states/districts if schools do not reopen in the fall. Specifics about which funds could be withheld have not been identified.
On its own, the Administration does not have the power to simply cut funding designated for public schools that has been appropriated by Congress, but they could try and put rules in place around some of the COVID-19 emergency funding through the CARES Act that could restrict them through a rule. This would likely lead to a court challenge. Such an effort could also be reversed through new legislation clarifying that rules restricting funding by the Administration cannot be enacted and are overturned if already in place.
This Federal Legislative Report was written with assistance from the National School Boards Association.