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Education Funding

2010 Budget Proposes New Initiatives, But Few Numbers

By Alyson Klein — February 26, 2009 2 min read
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We got lots of proposals, but very few hard numbers, from the Office of Management and Budget today on President Obama’s education proposals.

Reporters in an afternoon call-in briefing pressed U.S. Department of Education officials on whether future budgets will make room for the increases to K-12 programs, including Title I and special education, that are in the economic stimulus just passed by Congress.

The budget documents say the Department of Education would get $46.7 billion in fiscal year 2010, which seems low compared to the $59.2 the department got in fiscal year 2008. But the reason for that apparent drop is that the money for the Pell Grant program for college students was shifted from the discretionary part of the budget to the mandatory side.

The budget projects that the department would get $53.6 billion in fiscal year 2011, the first year no longer covered by the stimulus money. It’s unclear whether the stimulus-funded increases for Title I and special education would be preserved.

Department folks stressed that we wouldn’t get the official numbers till April.

“In 2010 there’s not a lot of room,” one budget official said. “What have you done for me lately? [K-12] just got a lot of money in the [stimulus package].”

In addition to all the higher education news we already blogged about, President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget seems to have some big changes in the works for prekindergarten programs.

It looks like the budget would preserve a boosted budget for Head Start, which got a $2 billion bump in the stimulus. And the administration is working on a new early-education initiative aimed at helping states improve the quality and coordination of their prekindergarten programs, an idea that President Obama hit hard on the campaign trail last year. No details yet on whether that would be located in the Department of Education or in Head Start, which is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. There would also be mandatory funding to expand home visits by nurses for at-risk children.

There’s a proposal to fund a Promise Neighborhood program, which would be modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone. The program aims to boost college-going rates by combining K-12 education programs with a network of support services, including early childhood education, after-school activities and college counseling. No word on just how many cities would get access to the money; aides said those details are still being worked out.

There’s also language stating that the budget would provide funds for education research to help scale up promising programs. And the budget documents indicate that the Obama administration is going to “get started” on its plan to double spending on charter schools. Again, no numbers. The budget documents say the administration will close charter schools that aren’t performing well.

There’s also a $1 billion annual increase for child nutrition program reforms, which is supposed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals, and new money to expand service learning programs.

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