Washington, D.C. — Today, during consideration of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA—also known as No Child Left Behind—the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment from Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) that would allow states to use funds from Title IV of the law to provide technical support, through fiscal assistance teams, to districts to help them spend their school dollars more wisely. Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress endorsed the concept of fiscal assistance teams—which were pioneered by then-Virginia Gov. Warner—stating that “federal government can do far more to help states and districts and give them dedicated support to improve fiscal outcomes.”
CAP Senior Fellow Ulrich Boser released the following statement on adoption of the amendment:
The nation needs to do more to make sure that education dollars are spent effectively. Building off of a Virginia initiative spearheaded by then-Gov. Warner, the Center for American Progress put forth a proposal allowing states to use federal education funding to support productivity teams, which would help school districts evaluate their budgets and boost education bang for the buck. Sen. Warner’s amendment to allow federal funding to be used for this purpose would help scale the practice.
In its May 2015 brief, CAP outlined how fiscal assistance teams could assist school districts, writing that:
[S]tate-level Title I funds should be allowed to pay for technical assistance teams that provide fiscal support, which includes but is not limited to evaluating key operational functions, such as budgets, staffing, and administration. The state would provide a recommended list of outside vendors that districts could use; districts would be required to help pay for some portion of the program out of their own budgets. While such uses of Title I funds might be allowable in certain circumstances under current law, this proposal would include amending the ESEA to ensure that this specific use of funds is permitted.
By encouraging states to use their funds for this purpose—and making it explicitly allowable under Title I—this proposal would create incentives to reduce inefficiencies in the spending of federal, state, and local dollars. More importantly, the policy effort would increase the real dollars available to support students without an increase in overall spending, and these dollars would be available to increase services targeted toward low-income schools that improve outcomes for low-achieving students.
Click here to see all of CAP’s work on ESEA reauthorization.
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