President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2011 proposed federal budget on Monday. As expected, a number of changes are proposed for grant programs in the U.S. Department of Education.
New Program for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
The Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS) proposed budget reflects two trends: Increased funding and program consolidation. The administration is proposing a 12.5% budget increase of $45 million for the OSDFS for a total of $410 million in 2011.
The proposed budget eliminates the program categories previously in existence and replaces them with a new program named “Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students.” It appears many of the same types of previously funded activities (drug and violence prevention, improving school safety, mental and physical health, etc.) will still be funded under this newly named program.
Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the OSDFS, told me the funding will focus on the following four major program streams:
- Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students program that expands the OSDFS 2010 K-12 school climate work to put in place measurements for schools that will enable States, districts, individual schools, and their partners to assess the need for, direct the provision of, and provide the resources and supports necessary for safe, healthy, and successful students. Competitive grants will be made to state education agencies who may make grants — based on the assessment provide by the climate measurement system — to local education agencies that have demonstrated need for programs designed to improve student mental and physical health and well-being, reduce violence and substance abuse, and promote social and emotional learning so that school climates can better contribute to student academic achievement and overall well-being.
- Emergency preparedness programs, which would include what is currently known as the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant program.
- Safe Schools/Healthy Students, an existing program which serves as a model of integrated, inter-agency work.
- Substance abuse and violence prevention in higher education.
Mr. Jennings also advised me in an interview on Monday that the budgeted amounts for REMS and the Safe Schools-Healthy Students programs for FY2011 are comparable to current appropriation levels for these programs.
What Is New for School Safety in 2011?
I asked Kevin Jennings for the bottom line on what is changing from the current year to 2011. His response:
“What we are trying to do is bring greater rigor to the area of school safety by instituting a comprehensive school climate measurement system that will guide funding and programmatic decisions,” Jennings said.
So expect the following if all passes through Congress as currently set forth in the President’s 2011 budget for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools:
- A much greater emphasis on school climate data in order to get funding. Specifically, a school climate measurement system will be put in place. Anticipate surveys and other data requirements in order to get funding.
- Competitive grant processes for the new Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students program. Funds will not simply be passed through to local education agencies.
- Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) and Safe Schools-Healthy Students (SSHS) will pretty much remain intact with appropriations at the current year’s funding levels. They will continue to be separate and distinct programs which will stand alone from the newly created Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students program. Don’t expect more money (although I am continuing to encourage Congress to increase appropriations) for these programs, but be happy they were not eliminated or reduced given all of the changes in ED’s grant consolidation efforts.
Tomorrow, we will come back to the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools for an inside conversation with its leader about national school safety gaps, priorities, and best practices.