Capital Digest

January 10, 1990 3 min read

With calculations now complete, the Education Department has slightly reduced its total 1990 budget from the tentative figures released last month.

Appropriations bills provided $24.4 billion for the department for the current fiscal year. That amount was reduced to about $24.15 billion by across-the-board cuts imposed in a last-minute budget agreement.

The vagaries of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law, under which the cuts were made, account for most of the changes in the final figures.

Several allotments were adjusted by small amounts, and funding was switched among some programs.

For example, $100,000 in funding for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and $27,000 allotted for statistical activities was shifted to other research activities, because of a complex interplay between Gramm-Rudman mandates and the department’s statutory obligation to fund specific programs.

The combined effect of the 1990 budget law and an anti-drug bill was to shift $1.7 million from national drug-education programs to state grants. A similar switch occurred in a library program.

The largest change is in a literacy program for homeless adults, for which the preliminary figures listed $2.5 million too much--a mistake caused by confusion over Congressional intent.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration informed Congressional leaders last week that the President would not unveil his proposed fiscal 1991 budget until Jan. 29, missing the deadline by a week.

The Jan. 22 deadline set by the Congress already represented a two-week extension of the deadline under federal law.

In letters to Congressional leaders, Richard G. Darman, the budget director, cited late action on the 1990 budget bills and the need to prepare a report on the across-the-board cuts included in one of them.

The schedule change may also affect the timing of Mr. Bush’s State of the Union Message, which he was to deliver on Jan. 25.

An increase in births that began in 1977 will result in a 9 percent spurt in elementary- and secondary-school enrollment over the next decade, the Education Department projects in a recent report.

The increase will peak in 1998, when total enrollment is expected to reach 49.7 million.

In the year 2000, an estimated 49.5 million students will be attending public and private schools, an increase of 4 million over the current school year, according to the report. In contrast, total enrollment declined by 4 percent from 1978 to 1989.

The department predicts that the additional students will fuel increased demand for teachers, and that the number of classroom teachers will rise by 15 percent, to 3.1 million, by 2000.

Projections of Education Statistics to 2000 is available for $11 from the Superintendent of Public Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or by telephone at (202) 783-3238. Ask for stock number 065-000-00392.

The Education Department has scheduled eight regional meetings on the new program-improvement provisions of the federal Chapter 1 program.

The sessions, intended for parents, teachers, school-board members, and compensatory-education experts, are to be held Jan. 23-24 in Chicago; Feb. 1-2 in Washington; Feb. 12-13 in Detroit; Feb. 20-21 in Portland, Ore.; Feb. 26-27 in Boston; March 1-2 in Dallas/Fort Worth; March 8-9 in Nashville; and March 15-16 in Los Angeles.

Exact locations will be published in an upcoming Federal Register.

The Agriculture Department has set a meeting next week to solicit comments on the Commodity Letter of Credit program.

The cloc initiative, part of the federal school-lunch program, allows certain school districts to obtain letters of credit with which to purchase food, instead of receiving commodities directly from the government. It was first authorized as a demonstration project in 1981.

Topics to be discussed at the Jan. 18 meeting include the type of products that can be purchased with cloc’s, the timing of purchases, administrative issues, and the effect of the program on the existing commodity-distribution network.

For more information, or to submit written comments, contact John Endahl, 3101 Park Center Dr., Room 206, Alexandria, Va. 22302; (703) 756-3115.

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 1990 edition of Education Week as Capital Digest