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The Senate last week approved a $3.4-billion supplemental-spending bill that would add $893 million to the Education Department's 1989 budget.

In addition to $892 million to cover shortfalls in the Stafford student-loan entitlement program, the Senate version of HR 2072 would provide $790,000 in supplemental funds for the department's office for civil rights and $440,000 for its inspector general's office.

The measure also orders the department to redirect $5 million in bilingual-fellowship funds that would otherwise lapse. The money would go for other training activities for bilingual-education personnel. In addition, it mandates a study of the potential impact of military-base closings on nearby school districts.

Senators added to the bill a nonbinding "sense of the Senate" resolution favoring reconsideration of a provision of the 1986 tax-reform law requiring employers to ensure that all levels of employees are treated equitably in fringe-benefit plans.

The amendment, which also endorses a delay in implementation of the requirement, known as Section 89, was adopted on a 98-to-0 vote after Republicans withdrew a proposal to repeal the provision outright.

Schools and other employers have argued that Section 89 is too complicated and may discourage employers from offering benefits.

The supplemental bill now moves to a House-Senate conference committee.

The House version of HR 2072 calls for an additional $800 million in spending. It contains no education-related provisions other than the required appropriation to cover student-loan shortfalls.

The House Education and Labor Committee last week approved legislation to extend the National School Dropout Demonstration Program through 1991.

The program, authorized for fiscal years 1988 and 1989 by last year's Hawkins-Stafford reauthorization act, funds special, limited anti-dropout projects. The appropriations ceiling for the program is set at $50 million, although it received only $23.9 million in 1988 and $21.7 million in 1989.

The Hawkins-Stafford act also authorized a larger secondary-school basic-skills program, designed as an extension of Chapter 1, that would cover dropout-prevention projects. It is slated to begin in fiscal 1990. But committee members fear the Congress will not fund the larger program, and so want to have a smaller option on the books, according to documents distributed at last week's markup.

Before approving the bill, the panel adopted amendments ordering the Education Department to set aside $1.5 million to evaluate projects funded by the program and requiring grant recipients to evaluate their projects within six months of completion. Another amendment would increase the amount of aid that could flow to educational partnerships.

The amendments were offered by Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the panel's ranking Republican.

President Bush was set to hold a meeting late last week with the top education officials of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdioceses, during which the leaders said they would press him on the issue of tuition tax credits.

Members of the National Catholic Educational Association requested the June 9 meeting with Mr. Bush after comments he made in April cast doubt on his support for tax credits for parents who send their children to private schools. The President has said he still supports the concept but that the federal government cannot afford it at this time.

Mr. Bush was scheduled to meet with the education secretaries or equivalent officials from the following archdioceses: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., St. Louis, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

The officials designated to lead the delegation were Sister Catherine T. McNamee, president of the ncea, and the Rev. Thomas Gallagher, secretary for education for the U.S. Catholic Conference.

Vol. 08, Issue 38

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