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Contact: Elleka Yost
Botel Offers ESSA Answers in Exclusive ASBO Interview
Reston, VA – January 29, 2018 – The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) is excited to announce the latest episode of its podcast School Business Matters, which features an exclusive interview with U.S. Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel. The episode, “Unpacking the Current Administration’s View of ESSA,” is available at asbointl.org/podcast.
The interview, hosted by ASBO International Executive Director John Musso, covers the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—addressing everything from the Department of Education’s (ED) plans for ESSA and how the law aligns with the Trump Administration’s priorities, to Botel’s role in reviewing state accountability plans and how federal funding and reporting have changed under the law.
“ESSA really is a great step in terms of putting states and local districts in the driver’s seat,” Botel said. “We [at ED] feel very strongly that people who are closest to students are best equipped to make decisions for their education.” While he believes No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initially was the right direction for education, Botel said it gradually involved too many top-down decisions from the federal government and wasn’t the best way to improve student achievement. Botel believes that ESSA will return decision-making power back to state and district leaders, aligning with the administration’s desire to restore local control over education.
Musso and Botel also discussed how ED Secretary Betsy DeVos, a big proponent of school choice, will balance promoting choice with maintaining support for public schools. “This is something, of course, we think about every single day,” Botel said. “We want to make sure that every child has high-quality educational options, and for many students, they’re going to find that in…public school systems.”
However, while ED encourages creating as many different public schooling opportunities as possible, Botel said there are still students who “will continue to find opportunities in private schools as well.... We know that different students have different needs. We want to make sure that parents have different options so that they can find really the best model for their child.”
When asked about the role ASBO International and school business officials can play to ensure student success under ESSA, Botel said ASBO members are “more critical than ever” for determining what kind of access to resources students have to improve equity and achievement. He noted that states will need help complying with ESSA’s new financial transparency and reporting requirements, whereby states must include the per-pupil expenditure data for each school in their annual report cards.
Botel and Musso discussed some of the obstacles facing states and districts with generating, collecting, and reporting this financial data, even despite ED’s one-year extension given to states to prepare for this aspect of the law. “We’ve heard from state and local education leaders this is just not the way that accounting has been done up until now,” Botel acknowledged. “It requires… a level of sophistication and customization when it comes to accounting, when it comes to school finance, that many places just haven’t had in place before.”
As a former school business official, Musso confirmed other education leaders’ reason for concern about meeting ESSA’s financial reporting requirements. “When you say that [way of accounting] is a challenge, Jason, that’s certainly an understatement. I think in my thirty-five-plus years in education, we’ve been working on the per-pupil expenditure and trying to equate it appropriately across everybody....”
According to Botel, ESSA’s new financial data will provide an opportunity to show where educational resources are being allocated and give stakeholders the information they need to ensure all students are receiving an equitable education. He called on school business officials to reach out to other local and state leaders and help determine the best way to provide this data—not only for the sake of compliance but also to ensure resources are going where they’re needed to increase student achievement.
Listen to the entire interview and other School Business Matters episodes at asbointl.org/podcast.
For more information about Jason Botel, read his official biography on ED’s website. To learn more about John Musso, read his biography here.
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About ASBO International
Founded in 1910, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) is a nonprofit organization that, through its members and affiliates, represents approximately 30,000 school business professionals worldwide. ASBO International is committed to providing programs, services, and a global network that promote the highest standards in school business. Its members support student achievement through effective resource management in various areas ranging from finance and operations to food services and transportation. Learn more at asbointl.org.