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News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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New Telecommunications Discounts Proposed

The Clinton administration offered new details last week of its proposal to give K-12 schools and libraries discounted access to communications services, including the Internet.

The framework for a discounted "E rate" for educational institutions was presented in comments to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, which is advising the Federal Communications Commission on rules to implement the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Final regulations are expected by March.

Under the Clinton proposal, communications services would fall into one of two pricing tiers.

Schools and libraries would receive the first-tier services free. These would include "basic connectivity and Internet access, at adequate transmission speeds."

Schools and libraries would receive other communications services at discounts. The administration's proposal suggests that institutions choosing not to use the basic package be able to apply the first-tier credit to purchasing other services. Further discounts would be available for schools and libraries in "high-cost or low-income areas."

Participation in Federal Breakfast Program Rises

A record number of public and private schools participated last year in the federal school-breakfast program that serves government-subsidized meals to low-income children, a nutrition advocacy group says.

More than 65,000 schools participated in the breakfast program during the 1995-96 school year, 3,000 more than the previous year, an annual survey by the Food Research and Action Center reports. The survey also found that 5.6 million low-income chil-dren ate federally subsidized breakfasts on a daily basis last year, 200,000 more than in the 1994-95 school year.

"Without school breakfasts, many children would have to start their classwork on an empty stomach," said Michele Tingling-Clemmons, a FRAC spokeswoman, who called on government and community leaders to expand the meals program further. The new federal welfare law preserved funding for the school-breakfast program but eliminated the grants for schools to launch new breakfast programs.

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