Here’s some potentially good news for cash-strapped school districts: It looks like Congress is going to work on a real, honest-to-goodness budget for education in fiscal year 2009, which actually began back on Oct.1.
In September, Congress passed a measure extending funding for most federal programs—including education—at fiscal year 2008 levels until March to avoid a repeat of last year’s showdown with President Bush.
It even looked like lawmakers were just going to pass another extension covering the rest of fiscal 2009, then get to working on the fiscal 2010 budget, which will be the first proposed by the incoming Obama administration.
But that would have meant that education programs such as Title I wouldn’t see any sort of increase. They would just get the same amount as the year before ($13.9 billion in the case of that program). Most education groups really hate budget extensions because they believe such measures basically amount to a cut, since inflation and rising enrollment mean that the same amount of money doesn’t go as far.
But now, I’ve heard from a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee that there’s likely to be a regular budget for education this year. Which means schools might actually see some sort of increase for major programs.
The House and Senate appropriations committees, which oversee all federal spending, have already gotten started on their bills, both of which included modest increases for Title I and for students in special education.
You can read Edweek’s stories on those measures (which centered around the decision to provide absolutely no funding for Reading First). Also, the folks in the Department of Education’s budget office do a great job of tracking what’s going on on the Hill. You can check out their budget tables here.