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Between fiscal 1980 and 1993, federal funds for elementary and secondary education increased 12 percent in constant dollars, according to a recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Such funding dipped in the early 1980's--mirroring the trend for all federal education spending--and started rising in the late 1980's. Not until after 1990 did precollegiate spending approach the constant-dollar amount spent in 1980, the year the Education Department became a separate agency.

In fiscal 1993, elementary and secondary schools received about 11 percent of their revenue from the federal government.

Federal education funds for postsecondary education programs declined about 13 percent in constant dollars from fiscal 1980 to 1993, in large part a result of the phaseout of two major programs: the G.I. Bill in the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was limited to individuals in active military service before 1977, and Social Security postsecondary benefits, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Copies of the report, "Federal Support for Education: Fiscal Years 1980 to 1993,'' are available for $3.25 each from New Orders, Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15250-7954; (202) 512-2250. Ask for stock number 065-000-00626-0.

Turning a Profit: A school district in suburban Cincinnati has made a multimillion-dollar profit by selling off former federal property it had received from the U.S. Education Department.

The Great Oaks Joint Vocational School District received 360 acres of land in 1972 under a program that distributes surplus federal land and equipment to schools. Its 30-year lease stated that the land, which used to be part of the Clinton County Air Force Base, could only be used for educational purposes.7

But the district recently sold 216 acres of the land to Airborne Express, a Seattle-based airline, for $5 million. The airline plans to build a runway.

The district must reimburse the federal government in exchange for being released from its contract. However, it will only repay about $114,000--a figure based on land values in 1972, when the district's lease took effect.

The Education Department has about 700 such contracts with school districts and other educational institutions, according to a department spokesman.

The district plans to use the funds to build a multimillion-dollar agricultural study center, to open in September, as well as other facilities to replace its World War II-era buildings.

Maintenance of Effort: State and local education agencies must maintain funding for programs serving disabled infants and preschoolers in order to retain federal money under a section of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act that supports such programs, according to the U.S. Education Department's office of special-education programs.

Responding to an inquiry from Kansas state officials, Tom Hehir, OSEP's director, said funds expended by state and local agencies must remain at least level for the state to qualify for aid under the federal Part H program--even if private funding sources dry up.

Funding levels could only be allowed to drop if the number of eligible children decreases or the state has spent "unusually large amounts'' on such expenses as new equipment or facilities construction, Mr. Hehir said..

"The regulations do not distinguish between various sources of state and local funds,'' he wrote.

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