April Government Relations Update

Education Cuts in the Florida Budget Rita Ferrandino authored a blog post for Sarasota Patch examining education spending in the recently signed $70 billion Florida state budget. Rita notes that while the budget “ostensibly provides a $1 billion funding “increase” for K-12 education, that hardly offsets last year’s cut of $1.3 billion, let alone provides any allowance for increasing costs, an estimated 31,000 new students, or makes up for over $500 million of expiring short-term federal support.” For the full post, visit here.

Early Learning Updates The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services recently announced that $133 million from FY2011 Race to the Top funding would be made available for state-level early education programs. The agencies are targeting five states that participated in the 2011 Race to the Top competition but did not receive awards (Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin), making them eligible to apply for up to 50% of the award requested in last year’s application. A notice of proposed rulemaking for the competition will be published soon in the Federal Register, and more information can be found here. Also in early education news, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its “2011 State Preschool Yearbook” on April 10, an annual report on state-funded preschools in the United States. Among the report’s findings – while preschool enrollment has continued to grow rapidly, per-child funding has declined by an inflation-adjusted $715 between the 2001-02 and 2010-11 school years. Learn more about the report here. Finally, the DOE has unveiled a new site that features information on early learning discretionary grant programs, including guidance for school districts and schools using Title I, Part A funds to implement high-quality preschool programs.

Department of Labor Announces Summer Jobs Program The Department of Labor is sponsoring a summer jobs program to help connect businesses to low-income youth during the summer 2012 hiring season. Businesses, non-profits and local governments can visit the DOL’s Summer Jobs site to enter opportunities in the Summer Jobs Bank and make a “Pathways Pledge” in three categories – Learn and Earn (paid positions), Life Skills (mentorship programs, resume and interview workshops) and Work Skills (internships and job shadowing)