On Friday, May 28th, the Biden administration released their proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which is set to begin on October 1, 2021 and run through September 30, 2022. The White House is proposing a $6 trillion budget plan for 2022, which includes the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, a $1.8 trillion education and families plan, and $1.5 trillion in proposed discretionary spending.
The Department of Education would receive $102.8 billion under the proposal, a $29.8 billion increase from this year. This includes significant, meaningful increases in funding for Title I ($36.5 billion) and IDEA ($15 billion), as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for new and existing formula and grant programs, such as a new $1 billion grant program to help schools hire more counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals, and a $100 million grant program to foster diverse schools.
Within that budget the Biden administration has asked for $440 million for the Charter School Program (CSP) – the same amount as in fiscal year 2021. Charter Schools Grants support the startup of new charter schools and the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools. Funds also support grants to improve charter schools’ access to facilities and information dissemination, grantee technical assistance, and evaluation activities. Within CSP, the Biden Administration is requesting that funds be distributed among the different programs as follows:
- $225 million for State Entity and Developer grants
- $240 million for Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools
- not less than $60 million to improve charter schools’ access to high-quality facilities, and
- not less than $15 million for national activities which include providing technical assistance to grantees; disseminating best practices regarding charter schools; and evaluating the impact of Charter Schools Grants, including on student achievement.
In its budget justification document the Department of Education also provided several policy snippets that may inspire discussion in Congress or in the charter school field.
- The Department gave a small preview of a report it will be issuing on how state entity grantees are using their Technical Assistance funds to promote quality charter school authorizing. According to the preview, of the 19 grantees reviewed, 18 use or plan to use funds for technical assistance on charter school authorizing.
- The Department indicated it would support appropriations language to ensure that CSP funds are not provided to schools that are substantially operated or managed through a contract with a for-profit entity.
Congress ultimately holds the power of the purse and will be responsible for drafting and passing a budget by September 30. Whether it aligns closely to the Administration’s proposal or not is still to be seen. Congress is on recess this week, but is expected to start negotiations on the budget in early June.