Federal

Congress OKs Budget With Increase for Education

By Alyson Klein — December 15, 2009 4 min read

Congress last week approved a fiscal year 2010 spending measure that would provide level funding for key education programs, even as lawmakers and the Obama administration weighed the prospect of a jobs package that could include new education aid for cash-strapped states and localities.

A House-Senate conference committee Dec. 8 agreed to a bill that would finance programs in the U.S. Department of Education at about $63.7 billion, a 2 percent increase over fiscal 2009, but a 0.7 percent decrease over the president’s request of $64.2 billion.

The House of Representatives voted 221-202 on Dec. 9 to pass the bill. The Senate approved the measure on Dec. 13, 57-35.

Those figures don’t include up to $100 billion in education spending in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic-stimulus program, which covers fiscal 2009 and 2010.

The House-Senate compromise includes $14.5 billion for Title I grants to districts to help cover the cost of educating disadvantaged students, about the same level as fiscal 2009.

That’s a shift from both the president’s fiscal 2010 education budget request and the version of the fiscal 2010 spending bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee in July. (“Senate Panel Rejects Bid to Further Boost TIF,” July 29, 2009.)

President Barack Obama’s budget would have cut Title I grants to districts by $1.5 billion and, instead, steered $1 billion to Title I School Improvement Grants. Those grants are aimed at helping states and districts turn around schools struggling to meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act, the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

But lawmakers rejected that plan. Instead, the Title I grant program, which received $3 billion in fiscal 2010 through the stimulus, would be level-funded in the appropriations bill at $546 million.

“We are definitely excited and appreciative for the restoration of Title I,” said Mary E. Kusler, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va.

The conference committee also rejected a Senate proposal to create a $700 million new grant program for school facilities. Instead, lawmakers may use a pending bill that would reshape the federal student-lending system as an opportunity to provide some funding for school facilities. (“Proposed College-Loan Savings Would Aid Early Ed.,” Aug. 12, 2009.) Various Programs Among other highlights, the spending measure would:

• Finance Striving Readers, a secondary school literacy program, at $250 million. Instead of just serving adolescents, the program would be comprehensive, covering prekindergarten through 12th grade.

• Allot $11.5 billion for state grants to help states educate students in special education, the same level as in fiscal 2009. The stimulus included $11.3 billion over two years for that program.

• Provide $400 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund, which doles out grants for performance-pay programs. That’s less than the $487 million the administration wanted, but a huge boost over the $97 million the program got last year.

• Put $256 million into charter schools—less than the president’s request of $268 million, but still a $40 million increase over last year—and $50 million for a new initiative to help raise high school graduation rates.

• Direct $10 million to a new Promise Neighborhood initiative to help programs modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone, which pairs academics with extensive supports, such as health services, prekindergarten, after-school programs, and college counseling.

Finally, the measure would include a technical change sought by the Education Department to widen eligibility for the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund created under the stimulus program.

Originally, the grants were limited by the economic-stimulus law to those districts that make adequate yearly progress under NCLB for the previous two consecutive years.

Under the change, districts that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement could win a grant.

New Aid Package?

Meanwhile, President Obama’s Dec. 9 speech suggesting that new legislation could provide fresh funding for the nation’s infrastructure has some education advocates hoping that the package could include funding for school facilities.

But it isn’t clear just yet how much, if any, aid in a potential jobs package would be steered toward K-12 education or to avert teacher layoffs.

“States are required to balance their budgets, and may have to lay off public-sector employees,” including teachers, in order to do that without more help from the federal government, said Chad Stone, the chief economist with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank in Washington.

For now, education organizations are flagging what they want to see in the potential jobs package. For instance, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association sent a Dec. 3 letter to members of the House of Representatives asking that they consider including an education jobs fund in the new legislation.

The union is also seeking money for school facilities or an extension of school construction tax credits, additional Title I grants for districts, and special education money.

A version of this article appeared in the January 06, 2010 edition of Education Week

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal As New COVID Concerns Emerge, Biden Administration Keeps Focus on School Reopenings
Amid new COVID-19 concerns, the Biden administration kept its focus on in-person learning, stressing the need for safety precautions.
2 min read
Image of a student holding a mask and a backpack near the entrance of a classroom.
E+
Federal Biden Calls on Schools to Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Kids 12 and Up
The president is focusing on vaccinating children ages 12 and older as concerns grow about the Delta variant and its impact on schools.
2 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on June 2.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal How Political Backlash to Critical Race Theory Reached School Reopening Guidance
A lawmaker wants Miguel Cardona to repudiate the Abolitionist Teaching Network after federal COVID-19 documents referenced the group's work.
6 min read
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.<br/>
Graeme Sloan/SIPA USA via AP
Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty