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March Government Relations Update

March 13, 2013 by Rita Ferrandino

The Impact of Sequestration Over the past few months, school funding has slowed down in fear of sequestration. School districts have realized that while they may not have discretionary funds federally, they do have discretionary timing with their Title I funding. At the SIIA member breakfast, Charles Blaschke, of Education Turnkey Systems, noted that there is $2 billion of uncommitted Title I funds. Districts can allocate up to 25% of Title I funding for the following year, and Title I holdbacks are substantially bigger than usual, as districts lack confidence they will have federal funding comparable to what they have this year. This has created a “spending desert” that will continue until there is more certainty surrounding federal funding, and even if that comes sooner rather than later, education companies should expect a rough 12 months ahead.

In other sequestration-related news, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went on the record late last month to warn about the impacts of sequestration on education, while the DOE released state-by-state impact reports on IDEA and Title I funding. The Huffington Post also detailed how many teachers might be let go in each state due to sequestration.

Education in the State of the Union During the 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama made clear, as he did during his campaign, that he wants to continue to invest in education, including an initiative to “reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math -- the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.” (Full transcript available here). President Obama also offered similar remarks on education in Georgia on February 14.

Harkin Announces Retirement Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced that he will not be running for re-election when his current Senate term expires in 2014, following five consecutive terms in the United States Senate and more than 38 years in Congress. Senator Harkin is the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee. He recently outlined several policy initiatives specifically focused on moving forward legislative bills to ensure all Americans have a quality education.

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