School funding ‘flex’ vexes lawmakers

The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act will “maintain monitoring, reporting, and accountability requirements for states and school districts under existing ESEA programs. This ensures [that] states and school districts continue to focus on improving the academic achievement of special populations of students, including disadvantaged students, migrant students, at-risk students, and ELLs,” the bill reads.

The legislation also includes a “reasonable annual notification requirement, similar to what is currently included in REAP Flex.”

“The carryover of all program reporting requirements is a prudent check on the proposed expansion of flexibility,” said AASA, “providing a transparent mechanism for giving local educators the flexibility they need while allowing for state and federal oversight of expenditures and activities.”

Under the proposal, school districts would tell state officials how they plan to use their funds, and state officials would notify the Secretary of Education how they plan to use their own funding.

However, the bill does not require an application or approval process to take advantage of the flexibility.

Is it necessary?

Democrats argue there are several provisions in the current education law to promote flexibility, yet few states or districts choose to use the options available.

To highlight some of these provisions, the Democrats on the House Education and Workforce Committee released a report, titled “Real Relief for Schools: Accomplishing Effective Flexibility.”

The report outlines policy requests and priorities for flexibility from education stakeholders and also includes the Democrats’ visions and recommendations for building greater flexibility into ESEA.

The controversial bill was considered in committee and has been recommended to be considered by the House as a whole.

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