Traditionally, most of a public school’s funding comes from the state and the district. President Biden may be about to change that dynamic.
In his sweeping federal education budget proposal, President Biden is aiming for schools to receive significant funding from the federal government, thanks to an extensive federal investment in the United States education system.
Although the plan still needs to work its way through Congress, this 2022 fiscal budget would help schools and districts provide safer, better, and more consistent educational environments for students of all ages. If passed, it could be the single biggest change that schools have seen in recent memory and provide the educational system with massive support as it works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the lives of students and families.
Six Things That School Leaders Should Know about the Federal Education Budget Proposal for 2022
So, what is included in the federal education budget? What could these proposed changes mean for your school?
1. It models an overall increase of nearly 41%
The budget includes an overall education funding increase of nearly 41%. This is a staggering amount, more than any other president has requested since the Department of Education was created in 1979.
The requested increases are in addition to the $130-billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, which is designed to help schools recover from the challenges caused by the pandemic and prepare for future emergencies.
The takeaway: With the budget being additive to ESSER, schools do not need to be as concerned about allocating funds for COVID-19 recovery, as they will still be getting a boost to their budgets for the year.
2. It offers $20 billion in Title I-like Grants
The budget proposal directly addresses money provided to high-poverty schools and districts. Biden’s federal education budget proposed doubling the funds available for Title I programs. However, the budget adds $20 billion to a new Title I-like program intended to balance funding inequities within the states.
The program would target the inequities between wealthy and poor schools and offer more assistance to schools that primarily serve students of color. This offers the opportunity for these schools to hire additional staff and teachers, increase pay, and reduce other inhibitors to student achievement.
The takeaway: The funding that schools currently see through Title I grants isn’t going anywhere. However, high-poverty schools could see additional funds coming their way if the Biden education budget passes.
3. It increases special education funding
This proposed 2022 federal education budget could fully fund, for the first time, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) program. With an increase of $2.7 billion for IDEA, the total budget for the program would jump to $16 billion.
Schools that commit to services for IDEA-eligible students are legally and financially obligated to the plan for each special education student in their institution. The therapies and supports can’t be limited or eliminated because of funding. Yet, schools have had to balance those requirements with underfunding from the federal government, even as IDEA turns forty-five years old this year.
The takeaway: With full funding, more schools will be able to provide a wider range of services for students with special needs. Schools won’t need to struggle to provide the needed support for these students and offer programs and instruction for the larger school population.
4. It offers increased support for student wellbeing and wrap-around services
Modern students and schools understand the enormous impact that the educational environment has on them today and into the future. In addition to healthcare initiatives, the importance of which was especially seen over the last year, many schools have increasing needs for mental health professionals, counselors, and social workers.
The proposed 2022 federal education budget includes $1 billion to provide schools and districts with additional mental health professionals, nurses, and counselors. The “school-based health professionals fund” would enable schools to offer resources to students in need for the first time or bolster and expand existing programs.
Also, the Full-Service Community Schools fund within the budget would provide an additional $443 million. Wrap-around services for students and their families would be included in this increased funding for community schools.
The takeaway: Increased financial support for nurses, counselors, and mental health professionals will give students and their families unprecedented access to help within the school environment. However, schools need to ensure that they have the tools and resources necessary to identify those students who need help. Clear, concise, and consistent behavioral reporting, like that in ScholarChip’s Behavior Management platform, can give schools the tools that they need to do the most good with the additional federal funds.
5. It expands the years of free education for students
There is no debating the impact that early childhood education can have on a student’s educational career. For many families, however, it may be a tough choice between affordable child care and opportunities like preschool.
Similarly, college is frequently outside of the financial reach for many students. This can leak into the high school experience for some, who may see little reason to try to excel when it’s unlikely that they will be able to take advantage of good grades in a post-secondary environment.
Biden’s education budget proposes a solution for both of these situations by expanding funding to include two years of free child care and early childhood education and extending that to up to two years of community college.
The takeaway: Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from these programs. School administrators and teachers will be able to take greater advantage of the knowledge that students will acquire in preschool and create curriculums that will help prepare them for the coming critical years of education. Also, high school educators can help students plan and prepare for post-secondary education, regardless of the students’ financial situations.
6. It includes budget increases for higher education
Elementary and secondary educational institutions aren’t the only ones that will receive a bump if the proposed federal education budget is approved. The budget includes increases for grants and funding for higher education. Specifically, the proposal includes increased funding for historically black colleges and universities and those primarily serving minority students.
Beyond that, the budget also proposes the largest, one-time investment in the Pell Grant program in over ten years. The Pell Grant funding would increase by $3 billion, and the maximum award size for each student would increase by $400.
The takeaway: School administrators need to be ready to support all students in preparing for post-secondary education, as it will become increasingly available to a wider range of students under the 2022 educational budget. This preparation isn’t restricted to high school administrators, but rather stretches back to elementary education. Students will need a firm grounding in the fundamentals to succeed. Schools will need to offer evidence-based educational programs (like SEL), social and behavioral supports, and a safe environment to give students the best footing for long-term educational success.
Should the proposed 2022 Biden federal education budget pass in its entirety, it will include historic funding for the US education system. Schools will be able to continue their recovery from the pandemic without fear of jeopardizing existing or future programs. They will have better resources to support all students and a potentially brighter outlook for those in the greatest need of help and services.
What’s crucial is that schools have the tools and means to make the most of these opportunities. Leveraging evidence-based educational frameworks, keeping students safe and healthy, and identifying students in need of additional support and mental health services are essential to taking advantage of everything that this budget can offer school administrators and their staff and students.
The ScholarChip team is dedicated to helping school leaders maximize the safety and well-being of students and the entire school community.
Want to talk more about creating an actionable plan for these funds to help close the learning loss and make reopening effective and safe? Feel free to chat with one of our specialists today!