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SPENDING AGREEMENT: Federal Education Funding to Receive Slight Boost in Fiscal Year 2016

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) would receive $45.8 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 under a massive omnibus spending bill that President Obama signed into law on December 18. The total represents an increase of $1.19 billion compared to last year, but it is $2.3 billion less than the amount in President Obama’s FY 2016 budget request. The law, which includes all twelve of the annual spending bills, will fund the federal government until September 30, 2016.

“While an end-of-the-year omnibus is not the preferred way to do business—it is always better to complete individual bills in a timely fashion—this bill will allow Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty to responsibly fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). “This package reflects conservative priorities in both funding and policy, including support for critical areas such as our national defense, halting many harmful regulations, and trimming wasteful spending. But it also represents a compromise that members on both sides of the aisle can and should get behind.”

Despite being eliminated in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which targets the nation’s lowest-performing schools, will receive $450 million. While that amount is $55 million less than the previous year, the omnibus bill ensures that the program will continue in 2016.

Among individual programs, Title I will receive $14.9 million, a $500 million increase compared to last year, and special education state grants will receive $11.9 billion, an increase of roughly $400 million. The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program will receive $190 million, an increase of $30 million.

Education Week reporter Andrew Ujifusa writes that the budget agreement “clarifies that formula-funded grant programs will continue to operate under” the No Child Left Behind Act for the 2016–17 school year. “In short, ESSA isn’t really relevant for this bill,” he writes.

Funding levels for individual programs within ED are available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget16/16action.pdf.

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