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Supplemental Bill Includes Call for Impact-Aid Study, Bilingual Funds

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Washington--The Senate last week was set to act on a $3-billion supplemental-appropriations bill for the current fiscal year that includes $892 million for the Stafford student-loan program.

In addition to adding some funds to the Education Department's budget, the report language in the bill includes some special instructions for the department to carry out.

The bill drafted by the Senate Appropriations Committee orders the department to report by July 1 on the potential fiscal effects of the closing of 90 military bases on surrounding school districts.

The base closings, which were recommended last year by a bipartisan federal commission, are scheduled for early next year. The report language said the committee was concerned that an "abrupt withdrawal of [impact-aid payments] could cause serious disruption in the affected school districts."

Spend Bilingual Funds

The bill also instructs the department to spend $5 million already appropriated for a bilingual-education fellowship program.

According to the bill, the department was mandated by law to withhold funds for the fellowship program until a report on that program was sent to the Congress.

That report was not completed until last month, leaving some bilingual-education advocates concerned that the department would not be able to hold a competition and award the fellowships by the end of the fiscal year, according to James J. Lyons, executive director of the National Association for Bilingual Education.

The committee instructed the Department to use the $5 million for other training activities for bilingual-education personnel and to wait until the next fiscal year to fund the fellowships.

Rescinds Data System Funds

The bill also makes available $790,000 in supplemental funds for the department's office for civil rights due to a 79 percent increase in complaints received since the Congress passed the Civil Rights Restoration Act last year.

And it allocates an additional $440,000 to the inspector general's office to enable the unit to continue investigations of the student-loan system, the report language said.

While the bill includes additional funds for student loans, it rescinds $5.5 million designated for the development of a national student-loan data system. The committee said it rescinded the funds because certain statutory adjustments necessary to develop the program have not yet been made.

Both the House and the Senate committee denied an Administration request to re-appropriate more than $4.3 million to the income-contingent loan program.

Over all, the Senate committee bill trims $800 million from the House bill in an effort to avoid a veto by President Bush.--rrw

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