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Math-Science Program Halved in Budget Conference

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Washington--House and Senate conferees working on the Education Department's fiscal 1986 appropriations bill last week voted to halve the budget of the federal mathematics and science program to $50 million.

But they approved $17.5 million for two new programs, one to help recruit talented prospective teachers and one to provide inservice training for school administrators.

The Senate had approved $90 million--compared with $100 million in the 1985 spending bill--for what was once intended to be the federal government's flagship program to improve mathematics and science education.

But the House had voted not to fund the math-science program, which the Congress approved last year, because of a dispute over its authorization.

Susan Frost, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, called the compromise level of $50 million "not too pleasing."

Science-education experts had said the current $100-million allocation was too small to accomplish the measure's lofty goals.

The total budget for the Education Department was not available late last week, but observers predicted it would be closer to the Senate-approved figure of $18.3 billion than the House-passed $17.5 billion. The money will be included in HR 3424, the bill appropriating more than $100 billion for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

The spending bill will freeze funding for the major elementary- and secondary-education programs at their present levels. Most of the 8money will be spent in the 1986-87 school year.

Chapter 1 funding will remain at about $3.7 billion; Chapter 2, including block grants, at $532 million; vocational and adult education at $933 million; bilingual education at $143 million; and educational research and data collection at $60- million.

The conferees rejected Senate provisions to reduce some impact-aid payments and eliminate the emergency immigrant-education program, adopting instead the House provisions to fund each at the present level: $695 million for impact aid and $30 million for immigrant education.

The conferees also adopted the Senate-passed increases in special education, raising the amount for state grants from $1.13 billion to $1.2 billion and increasing the total for education of the handicappedfrom $1.32 billion to $1.41 billion.

The conferees also voted to fund two new programs, which had been approved by the Senate but not by the House.

The bill includes $10 million for Carl D. Perkins Scholarships, named for the late chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and initially authorized last year. This program will enable states to award scholarships to talented high-school students who are interested in the teaching profession.

Within 10 years after college graduation, scholarship recipients would be required to teach for two years in an elementary or secondary school in any state for each year they received aid.

The conferees also approved $7.5-million to enable states to establish training centers for school administrators.

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