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$177 Million Added for Chapter I, Special and Vocational Education

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Washington--The supplemental appropriations bill that Congress approved this month over President Reagan's veto contains more than $360 million in funds for education programs in the current school year, with $177 million of that amount earmarked for elementary and secondary schools.

The bill, which was passed by the House on Sept. 9 and the Senate on the following day, provides funds for the Chapter I program to aid disadvantaged students, for education of the handicapped, and for vocational education.

Funds were also provided for financial assistance for college students, aid to financially needy colleges, and loans for higher-education facilities.

Of particular significance is the $148 million for Chapter I--a 17-year-old program formerly known as Title I--provided in addition to the $2.7 billion already appropriated for the program this year. The additional funds would apparently settle a dispute between the Education Department and several states over the most equitable method of allocating the funds.

The department distributed Chapter I funds last summer based on data from the 1970 census, after a lawsuit filed by 10 states, which sought to force the department to use 1980 census data, was unsuccessful. The states, led by New York, alleged that because the numbers of disadvantaged residents had grown during the past several years in 19 states, those states would lose large amounts of funds under the older census data.

The additional funds will now be used to offset that difference. The appropriations bill stipulates that "local school districts [receive] the higher of the amounts they would receive under the 1970 or the 1980 census."

States May Withdraw Suits

The states will probably withdraw their suit, Ambach v. Bell, if they receive the additional Chapter I allotments, said a spokesman for the New York State Education Department.

In fact, as a result of the override, all states and territories except three--South Carolina, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico--will receive some additional Chapter I money this year, according to a spokesman for the federal Education Department's budget office.

Because the funds are distributed according to county population, some states will receive small additional allotments for counties that gained in the number of disadvantaged residents. For example, Alabama will receive a small additional Chapter I grant to benefit only one county, Winston, the spokesman said.

The new funds will enable school districts around the country to serve an additional 300,000 children in public and private schools in the current academic year, based on an average cost of $500 per child, according to Sally H. Christensen, the department's director of budget services.

A total of approximately 5.8 million children will participate in the program this year, she said.

Other elements of the bill include:

$26.5 million for education of the handicapped, in addition to the $1.2 billion already appropriated. The bill earmarks $15.7 million for personnel-development programs, $7.2 million for early-childhood education, and $3.6 million for research and development.

$2.52 million for vocational education, in addition to the $653 million already appropriated. Included are $1 million for the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at Ohio State University and $1.52 million for state advisory councils on vocational education.

$169 million for financial-assistance programs for college students, in addition to the $3.35 billion already appropriated. The amount includes $140 million for Pell Grants and $29 million for supplemental educational opportunity grants.

Both houses of the Congress quickly overrode the President's veto shortly after returning from the Labor Day recess, in spite of Mr. Reagan's personal lobbying.

'Balance' of Funds

The President, in disapproving the bill on Aug. 28, said he objected to the "balance" of funds contained in the bill, which provided a total of $918 million for domestic programs, but contained only $500 million of the $2.6 billion he had requested for national-defense programs. Mr. Reagan called the domestic-spending increase "unrequested and unwarranted."

"Is it 'unwarranted' to appropriate [funds] for added assistance to local school districts in meeting the special needs of educationally disadvantaged children?" responded the Democratic chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Carl D. Perkins of Kentucky, during the House floor debate.

Senators also praised the Chapter I program, which Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato, Republican of New York, said "is a program which has [been] proven to work."

"These programs are not wasteful. They are investments in the strength, knowledge, and future of our young people," said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut. "To place these programs at jeopardy because of the small percentage of funding they represent and yet chastise us for including only half a billion for defense, is a gross distortion of reality and national priorities," he said.

The Senate approved the override by a vote of 60 to 30; the House, by a vote of 301 to 117.

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