News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
GAO Questions Success Of Flexibility Efforts
Efforts to ease federal guidelines on K-12 initiatives and provide more funding with fewer strings attached may not be as effective as congressional leaders had hoped, according to a report by the General Accounting Office.
"Federal flexibility initiatives neither reduce districts' financial obligations nor provide additional dollars," concludes the Sept. 30 report, which was requested by Reps. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee; John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, who chairs the chamber's Budget Committee; and Christopher Shays, R-Conn.
The congressional investigative agency found that existing waivers and programs to consolidate federal aid are rarely used by districts because they have narrow eligibility definitions. In response, officials at the Department of Education said they believe such programs have had a positive effect on schools.
For a copy of "Elementary and Secondary Education: Flexibility Initiatives Do Not Address Districts' Key Concerns About Federal Requirements," call the GAO at (202) 512-6000.
--Joetta L. Sack
Administration Set To Unveil 'Design Challenge'
The Department of Education--together with the American Institute of Architects--hosted a Washington symposium on school design last week and urged school leaders to work with their communities to incorporate state-of-the-art features in new construction and renovation.
Vice President Al Gore, who was unable to attend the Oct. 5 event, sent word that the Clinton administration is planning a "national community design challenge" aimed at promoting schools that are both conducive to learning and suitable for multiple purposes. The Education Department is also planning a series of regional meetings to help communities explore their facilities needs.
Mr. Clinton's proposed $10 billion school construction initiative, meanwhile, has made little headway in Congress. Mr. Gore and President Clinton gathered education officials on the South Lawn of the White House Oct. 1 to ask Republican congressional leaders for "just one day" to debate and vote on stalled initiatives on school construction, class-size reduction, and hiring new teachers.
--Joetta L. Sack
Vol. 18, Issue 7, Page 26