Budget Has Mixed Message For Other School Programs

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Washington--Some of the education-related programs outside the Education Department fared better in President Reagan's final budget request than many of those within it.

A number of other programs, however, including school lunch, juvenile justice, and school asbestos abatement, were slated for cuts or elimination.

Mr. Reagan kept his pledge to seek a doubling of the National Science Foundation budget by 1992. But he sought a smaller increase for the agency's education programs than for its other initiatives.

As part of his $2.15-billion request for the foundation, the President asked for $190 million for support of science and engineering education--a jump of 11 percent over current funding.

Despite Congressional sentiment for boosting the foundation's commitment to precollegiate education, Mr. Reagan's budget plan seeks a smaller hike in K-12 spending than advocates had hoped for. It calls for an increase of 8.4 percent--to $129 million--for K-12 programs, compared with a 22 percent increase for graduate fellowships.

Erich Bloch, the nsf's director, said the agency sought relatively modest increases for education programs this year because that part of the budget had already nearly doubled, from $99 million, since 1987.

He also argued that programs aimed at strengthening the nation's "pipeline" of scientific expertise should address the needs of students at all levels, including undergraduate and graduate students.

Mr. Bloch said the agency's plans for the increased funds included supporting the development of middle-school mathematics curricula and doubling, to four, the number of regional centers that focus on science and engineering education for minorities.

Familiar Proposals

Other education-related budget requests ask for changes that have been sought by the Administration before and rejected or ignored by the Congress.

Most notably, Mr. Reagan has again urged lawmakers to alter the school-lunch and breakfast programs so that schools would receive no subsidy for meals served to children whose families have incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level.

Elimination of "upper-income meal subsidies," the budget documents noted, would save $1 billion next year.

Mr. Reagan has made this proposal several times since 1985, when the Congress restored similar cuts made in 1981.

The plan also calls for applying the same income guidelines to family-run day-care centers, where children can now get free meals regardless of their own family's income.

It also repeats a proposal, twice rejected by the Congress, to amend the summer-youth portion of the Job Training Partnership Act to allow local organizations to provide comprehensive, year-round services to disadvantaged youths.

The budget calls for a modest increase for the jtpa, but requests only level funding for the summer-youth initiative.

As it has every year, the Administration proposed eliminating the Justice Department's juvenile-justice program, and requested no funds for grants to school districts facing asbestos-abatement bills.

The juvenile-justice program funds the National School Safety Center and alternative-education services for children with behavioral disorders, as well as a variety of undertakings more directly related to youthful offenders.

The Administration argues that the program, which received $64.7 million in 1989, has served its original purpose of helping to remove juveniles from adult jails. The Congress disagreed with that assessment last year, however, when it reauthorized such efforts.

The asbestos-abatement program, which was funded at $47 million last year, pays for projects that should be the responsibility of local officials, the Administration has repeatedly argued.

The budget calls for $6.4 million to implement the asbestos-abatement law, but requests no money for grants to schools.

Head Start

The Reagan budget calls for $1.2 billion for Head Start, the same amount as in 1989. President-elect George Bush has proposed "full funding" for the program to enable it to reach all eligible children.

The budget requests level funding for a new effort to aid "comprehensive child-development centers" that provide a variety of educational and social services. The program, enacted last year, is modeled after Chicago's Beethoven Project.

Vol. 08, Issue 17

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