- Congress approved significant fiscal year 2023 increases for Title I programs in high-poverty schools, special education and community schools, with the U.S. Department of Education's pre-K-12 portion of $45 billion equaling a 5.6% increase over last year's spending allocation.
- The legislation, signed by President Joe Biden on Dec. 29, provides $79.6 billion for the Education Department — an increase of $3.2 billion over last year's budget, but $8.7 billion less than the president requested.
- The 2023 budget also includes a directive for the Education Department to provide guidance for districts and states on using federal funds to recruit, prepare, support and retain school principals and other leaders. Another provision gives greater flexibility to private school bus operators in accessing federal funding.
For the largest of the federal K-12 programs, Biden had asked Congress to double Title I funding to $36.5 billion, but lawmakers agreed to $18.4 billion total — a $850 million increase over FY 2022.
The next largest K-12 spending area — special education — will receive $15.5 billion, or $934 million more than last year. The allocation adds money for special education services for infants, toddlers and schoolchildren, as well as a $20 million increase for teacher preparation and professional development.
In a Dec. 21 statement posted on the Council for Exceptional Children's website, Executive Director Chad Rummel said, “We appreciate the progress shown for special education funding in this omnibus package, even though it does not meet the full-funding promise" of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, who chaired the House Education and Labor Committee in the last Congress, said in a Dec. 23 statement, “I am particularly pleased the package makes sizable investments in early childhood through post-secondary education."
Expansion of childhood nutrition aid — addressing both while students are in school and out — also received attention in the budget.
Although funding for universal school meals was not included, as advocates had pushed for, the legislation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture does provide $28.5 billion for federal child nutrition programs. That includes $40 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer For Children program for low-income families to purchase groceries and $30 million for equipment grants to help schools prepare meals.
“We are encouraged by the inclusion of crucial child nutrition programs in the omnibus bill,” said Eric Mitchell, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, in a Dec. 23 statement. “Ensuring kids have the nutrition they need throughout the year is a priority. However, there is still work to be done."
Other notable education-related items in the FY 2023 appropriation include:
- An increase of $960 million, to nearly $12 billion, for Head Start programs. This allocation includes a $596 million cost-of-living adjustment for Head Start staff.
- The Child Care and Development Block Grant saw an additional $1.85 billion for a total of $8 billion. The legislation, however, did not include a tax credit sought by advocates for low-income families with children.
- An increase of $59 million for English language acquisition, to a total of $890 million.
- For student support and academic enrichment state grants, $1.4 billion, a $100 million increase from FY 2022.
- An increase of $40 million for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, bringing the program to $1.3 billion.
- A $100 million boost for career, technical and adult education for a total of $2.2 billion.
- Doubling of the allocation for full-service community schools, to $150 million.
FY 2023 began Oct. 1, but when Congress missed the deadline for final budget approval, it passed a series of continuing resolutions to keep the federal government operating. FY 2023 ends Sept. 30.
Biden is expected to announce a proposed FY 2024 budget in the coming months.