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Published in Print: February 11, 2004, as Budget Plans for Other Agencies Would Affect Children and Schools

Budget Plans for Other Agencies Would Affect Children and Schools

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President Bush is asking for a $169 million increase in funding for Head Start, a 2.5 percent hike that would bring the budget of the federal preschool program for poor children to $6.94 billion in fiscal 2005.

Head Start is one of the largest precollegiate education programs administered outside the Department of Education. It and other education-related programs can be found in the budgets of numerous federal agencies, whose proposed 2005 spending levels appear in the $2.4 trillion federal budget plan President Bush released last week.

Highlights of the budget proposals for several programs follow.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Some of the Head Start increase—$45 million—would be used to support the president's proposal to allow a small group of states to receive Head Start funds directly. The administration argues that such arrangements would allow those states to better coordinate the federal program with their own state-financed early- childhood education efforts.

Opposed by organized advocates for Head Start, the plan has been approved by the House, but is not included in a pending Senate bill to reauthorize the program.

Some of the proposed Head Start increase would be used to improve teachers' salaries, support early-literacy efforts, and provide training and technical assistance. Observers, however, say the additional money might only cover a cost-of-living raise for Head Start teachers and would not help them obtain bachelor's degrees, as both the House and Senate reauthorization plans would require.

President Bush continues to hold the line on funding for child-care subsidies in the Child Care and Development Block Grant, recommending that spending for fiscal 2005 remain at its current level of $4.8 billion. But as part of Mr. Bush's "Good Start, Grow Smart" early-childhood initiative, new steps would be taken to track literacy, language, pre-reading, numeracy, and other school-readiness skills among children in programs receiving federal child-care funds.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

The president's 2005 budget proposal would give the Department of Agriculture's Child Nutrition Programs $12 billion—an increase of $361 million, or 3.1 percent, from fiscal 2004. Participation in the National School Lunch Program is expected to increase by 1.3 percent from fiscal 2004, to 4.9 billion meals a year.

The proposal also includes $75 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, which sends federal aid to relief organizations such as the U.N. World Food Program for meals for schoolchildren in developing nations in exchange for school attendance. That is up from $50 million in fiscal 2004, but still lower than in previous years. ("U.S. Cuts Food Aid for Schools Abroad," Jan. 28, 2004.)

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

President Bush is proposing $25 million for the Partnerships for Learning program in the Department of State, which is for educational exchanges with the Arab and Muslim world. Included in that is $10 million for a program in which Arab or Muslim high school students live in the United States for up to 11 months.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

President Bush proposes $5.7 billion for the National Science Foundation, a 3 percent increase over fiscal 2004, but the agency's investment in K-12 education would significantly decrease.

The president has proposed moving the $110 million math and science partnership competitive-grant program from the NSF to the Department of Education. ("Math, Science Grants in Federal Cross Hairs," this issue.)

The science agency would receive $80 million to continue existing partnership grants.

AMERICORPS

Following a tumultuous budget year that saw a dramatic drop in AmeriCorps members, the Corporation for National and Community Service would receive enough funding to more than double membership in the service program it administers.

Under the proposed budget, AmeriCorps would receive $441 million in fiscal 2005, the same as 2004, which would allow it to enroll 75,000 members. Last summer, enrollment in the program decreased to 35,000 participants, from 50,000 the previous year, because of budget constraints.

ARTS AND HUMANITIES ENDOWMENTS

First lady Laura Bush on Jan. 29 announced that the president's budget would propose an increase for the National Endowment for the Arts, from $121 million in fiscal 2004 to $139.4 million in 2005. Most of the 14.9 percent increase would go to pay for a program called American Masterpieces, which involves arts presentations and education programs across the country, the agency said.

President Bush has proposed a 20 percent budget increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities, from $135 million in fiscal 2004 to $162 million in 2005. The budget includes $33 million for the agency's ongoing "We the People" initiative, which promotes the teaching and understanding of American history.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

The proposed budget would vastly expand a program aimed at reducing the emission of air pollutants by school buses. The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus USA program would see its budget increase from $5 million to $65 million.

The program, launched in 2003, provides grants to replace pre-1991 school buses and retrofit more recent buses with improved emission-control features.

Staff Writers Darcia Harris Bowman, Michelle Galley, and Alan Richard and Assistant Managing Editor Mark Walsh contributed to this report.

Vol. 23, Issue 22, Page 20

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