Education Commentary

Federal File

March 31, 1999 1 min read

Budget questions

The Committee for Education Funding raised concerns last week about the budget plans of Republicans and Democrats alike in unveiling its annual guide to the federal education budget.

The broad-based coalition of education groups opposes the current House budget resolution and has expressed disappointment with President Clinton’s proposed fiscal 2000 education budget. Both include modest increases for education, but fail to boost spending by 15 percent, or $5 billion, from this year’s $33.5 billion budget, as the committee is seeking.

During a March 22 press conference on its new budget guide, the Washington-based CEF applauded a Senate plan that exceeds the House’s and the president’s education spending proposals. But the group warned that the Senate’s emphasis on K-12 spending increases could mean deep cuts and freezes in other education and child-related programs. (“GOP Budget Plans Promise Big Hikes in K-12 Spending,” March 24, 1999.)

The 17th edition of the CEF’s “Education Budget Alert” details federal programs, their funding history, and the president’s 2000 budget request, among other information. For a copy, call Jennifer Chang at the CEF at (202) 383-0083. The report is $29.

E-rate extension

Schools and libraries will have more time to install classroom wiring using their first-year “E-rate” discounts, thanks to a March 18 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the program.

The FCC voted to stretch the deadline for “nonrecurring services” such as installing internal connections until Sept. 30 of this year, after some schools and libraries complained that the June 30 cutoff was too soon.

Applicants had to line up contractors for E-rate projects by last spring for the program’s extended first “year,” which runs from January 1998 through June 1999. But many schools and libraries delayed starting work until they knew they were going to receive discounts.

The FCC also sewed up a hole in coverage for applicants whose contracts for telecommunications services and Internet access expired before last Dec. 31, the original end of the first year of discounts before the FCC opted last June to extend it by six months. The commission voted to permit the applicants to extend or renew their contracts through June 30, 1999, thus making them eligible for an additional six months of funding.

--Erik W. Robelen & Andrew Trotter

A version of this article appeared in the March 31, 1999 edition of Education Week as Federal File