How the Proposed 2018 Education Budget Impacts SEL Funding

The House Appropriations Committee has approved an education budget that calls for more than $2.4 million in cuts. The reductions are far less than the president’s plan, yet the House bill’s proposed decrease in spending will limit funding for many important education programs ― and this could impact social and emotional learning (SEL).

The good news for SEL is that traditional Title I funding is not affected in the new budget. Many states rely on these funds to support numerous types of programs, including SEL. Additionally, state grants for special education will increase by $200 million, and this could provide extra dollars for SEL programming.

Unfortunately, the proposed cuts will likely negatively impact students and schools that are most in need. For example:

  • Roughly 8,500 educator positions will be eliminated.
  • Class sizes will increase.
  • Afterschool programs for students most in need will lose their funding.
  • Professional development programs will be reduced or eliminated for nearly 2.5 million educators.

Two specific programs facing budget cuts that may impact funding opportunities for SEL are Title II and the 21st Century Community Schools Program.*

Title II

(Proposed Budget Cut: $2 million reduction in funding)

The Title II program was created to help states and schools retain high-quality and effective educators. Funds can be used for professional development and to hire quality educators to reduce class sizes. Most districts receive some Title II funding, and those districts serving low-income and large populations receive more dollars.

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidelines, schools have greater flexibility in using Title II funds to support SEL. Schools can use these funds to train educators on how to support mental health service referrals and how to address issues such as safety, peer interaction, drug/alcohol abuse, and chronic absenteeism. Schools can also use Title II funds to train staff on how to help students develop the critical social and emotional skills needed for learning readiness and academic success.

The 21st Century Community Schools Program

(Proposed Budget Cut: $200 million reduction in funding)

Designed to support low-income students attending low-performing schools, the 21st Century Community Schools Program provides afterschool services that help improve student achievement in core academic standards. The program also provides students literacy services and enrichment activities (including SEL) to help ensure that they succeed in school.

This program is important for SEL because research shows that afterschool programs focusing on SEL tend to have improved behavior and communication, reduced bullying, stronger peer relationships, and higher attendance rates.

What Does This Mean for Schools?

If the House budget bill passes, schools are going to have to make do with less. Now, more than ever, schools will need to be diligent in allocating funds in ways that are closely linked to student outcomes. SEL remains a critical element to ensuring all students succeed. Research consistently shows that SEL contributes to improved attendance, grades, graduation rates, and reduced behavior incidents.

Even if the budget cuts go into effect, there are still many funding opportunities to support SEL. Contact our SEL experts to learn how to navigate your budget restrictions so you can effectively implement an SEL program in your district.

*Reference: EdWeek (Like Trump Budget, House Funding Bill Strips out $2 Billion for Teacher Training)

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