News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Clinton Signs Bill With Title I Money

President Clinton last week signed a disaster-relief bill that will also buffer states from Title I funding losses related to a change in federal policy.

Just three days after he vetoed an earlier version of the same measure, the president lent his approval to an $8.6 billion supplemental appropriations bill that includes $101 million for Title I programs in 32 states. The president rejected the first bill on June 9 because it included language that would have frozen federal programs at this year's levels and prevented a federal government shutdown if Mr. Clinton and Congress failed to agree on funding amounts by the start of the next fiscal year, Oct. 1.

In a veto message, Mr. Clinton said the provision could keep education and his other priorities from getting the increases called for in the five-year balanced-budget agreement he and GOP leaders announced last month. Mr. Clinton also objected to an amendment on U.S. Census policy that Republicans had tacked onto the first bill.

Senators had pushed for the extra Title I money because 32 states are set to receive less Title I money than they otherwise would have under a new method for distributing the remedial education aid.

Flood Grant for Children

Grand Forks, N.D., will receive a $1 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to serve children and youths affected by recent flooding there.

The aid, to be managed by the Grand Forks Park District, will go to providing free services--such as child care and summer camp--to more than 10,000 young people. The program will run for 17 months.

Approximately 10 emergency child-care centers for infants and toddlers will be created for parents to use as they attend to such matters as rebuilding their homes and finding work. When school begins, the summer camp program will be altered to provide after-school and weekend activities.

Employment training also will be offered to teenagers, HHS officials said, and youth work crews will spruce up city parks, schools, and other public facilities. And the city will work with displaced child-care providers to help them find new facilities and reopen their programs.

The grant money will come from unused HHS disaster-relief funding. Grand Forks was the only community to seek the funding.

D.C. Voucher Plan Revived

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers has again introduced a plan to allow private school choice in the District of Columbia school system.

The proposed D.C. Student Opportunity Scholarship Act would create a pilot program to give federally financed scholarships or vouchers to low-income children that could be used to pay expenses at public, private, or parochial schools. The $7 million to $10 million in funding would come from Congress, but would not be taken from money earmarked for Washington's public schools.

The bill's sponsors include Reps. Richard K. Armey, R-Texas, and Floyd H. Flake, D-N.Y., and Sens. Daniel R. Coats, R-Ind., Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn.

The plan was quickly criticized by voucher opponents. The American Jewish Congress said it would redirect desperately needed dollars to private schools and schools outside the city.

A similar plan introduced last year passed the House, but died in the Senate. President Clinton strongly opposed that measure.

Clinton Pushes Juvenile-Justice Plan

President Clinton tried to drum up public and congressional support last week for his proposals to combat youth crime, including funding for more after-school programs.

Congressional Republicans have proposed measures that would dismantle some juvenile-justice programs altogether. But in a speech at his alma mater, Georgetown University, Mr. Clinton called for legislation that would restructure, not eliminate, the federal juvenile-justice bureaucracy and devote more resources to prosecuting juvenile offenders. Mr. Clinton also called on Congress to approve legislation that would authorize federal aid for "1,000 after-school initiatives." He emphasized that many after-school activities, such as sports and recreation programs, have proved to be effective in reducing youth crime.

A recent national study found that many federally financed violence-prevention efforts had only a marginal impact on reducing juvenile crime.

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