Donald Webster, Jr., president of the Manchester Township Board of Education and vice president for Finance of the NJ School Boards Association, joined more than 700 school board and state school boards association leaders urging the U.S. Congress to stop federal budget cuts to public education.
He also asked Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), allow more flexibility and input into the U.S. Dept. of Education’s decisions, and provide federal funding to strengthen school safety.
Webster was in Washington, D.C., to take part in the National School Boards Association’s 40th annual Federal Relations Network Conference held in late January. The network is a national grassroots legislative effort that urges members of Congress to make K-12 education a top priority.
“We must ensure that all local school districts have greater flexibility to make educationally sound decisions, and Congress adequately funds public education so we can continue to advance student achievement,” said Webster. “School funding is a major concern for local districts. Unless Congress intervenes before March 1, 2013, federal cuts to public education from sequestration would total more than $3 billion this fiscal year. Furthermore, these cuts would continue over a 10-year period and would erode the base of funding for key programs, including those for students with disabilities and disadvantaged students.”
Webster said that school board leaders requested that Congress accelerate investments in public education that support local efforts to continue to raise student achievement and to appropriate full funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates. They also urged Congress to help districts improve their emergency response plans and to help fund the hiring of new school resource officers.
“In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education has engaged in a variety of activities to reshape the educational delivery system. However, all too often these activities have impacted local school district policy and programs in ways that have been beyond the specific intent of the law,” said Webster. “As a result, school board leaders are seeking members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation that recognizes the benefits of local school district governance and ensures that maximum local flexibility and decision-making are not eroded through the U.S. Department of Education actions.
“Congress and the U.S. Department of Education must obtain meaningful input from local school boards, as local school boards must have the ability to make on-the-ground decisions that serve the best interests of our school districts,” said Webster.
NSBA is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of local school boards and their members throughout the U.S. They advocate for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.
- from the Manchester Township School District.