Trump seeks deep cuts in education and science programs

The Trump administration today unveiled its “America First” budget — a plan that would make deep cuts to some student aid programs and science agencies on which colleges, their students and their researchers depend.

In the U.S. Department of Education, the budget pledges level funding for Pell Grants, the primary federal program to support low-income students. Funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions would remain at current levels under the budget. The Trump administration has pledged to provide help for historically black colleges, and some leaders of HBCUs have been hoping for increases.

But the budget plan says work-study would be cut “significantly.” Further, the administration is calling for the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which go to low-income college students. Eliminating the program will “reduce complexity,” the budget proposal says, and produce $732 million in savings. In addition, the administration wants to eliminate GEAR-UP and reduce funding for TRIO programs, which prepare disadvantaged students for college and help them succeed once enrolled.

Some programs are slated for complete elimination, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Community and Public Service, which runs AmeriCorps.

Past Inside Higher Ed articles (on the NEH here and AmeriCorps here) note concerns in academe about these programs potentially being eliminated. William D. Adams, chairman of the NEH, has been silent amid reports of the planned elimination of the agency. But this morning, he issued a statement in which he said he was “greatly saddened” by the proposal and said the NEH would continue normal operations for now.

The budget plan would also kill the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, both of which support the work of scholars. Here is a background article from 2011, when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives tried to kill the peace institute.

In the State Department budget, the document says the Fulbright program will be protected, but other educational exchange programs will be slated for cuts. The international education programs run by the Department of Education — which provide funding for foreign language and area studies — are also included on a list of programs slated for reductions or elimination.

As expected, the science budget seeks cuts across a number of agencies that support research on climate change and the environment.

But the budget also proposes to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health by nearly 20 percent, to $25.9 billion. The budget plan states that savings will come in part from “consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities. The budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalance[s] federal contributions to research funding.” The NIH is the largest federal supporter of research and development, and its grants support research at universities nationwide. (Most NIH research is done through grants, and not at the NIH.)

Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, issued a statement Thursday in which he said that the Trump budget plan “would cripple the science and technology enterprise through shortsighted cuts to discovery science programs and critical mission agencies alike.”

The budget’s targets include some programs, like the NIH, that have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. But the current Republican congressional leadership and President Trump have vowed to push large increases in military spending, build a wall on the border with Mexico and resist tax increases. Such an agenda requires large cuts in many domestic programs.

Early Criticism of Impact on Low-Income Students

New America, a Washington think tank, released an analysis early this morning that suggests the cuts to work-study and SEOG may help protect Pell spending, although the analysis suggested that Pell may still be vulnerable down the road.

The analysis notes that the programs being proposed for cuts or elimination serve low-income students — with evidence that work-study has a positive impact on graduation rates of the most needy students.

“SEOG recipients’ income levels are comparable to Pell recipients. Seventy-one percent of dependent undergraduate recipients [are] from families making less than $30,000 per year, and 76 percent of independent recipients earn less than $20,000,” the analysis says.

As to work-study, New America noted concerns it finds legitimate, such as more aid going to private than public institutions and two-thirds of aid going to those with family incomes over $30,000. (Of course plenty of those with family incomes over $30,000 would have great difficulty paying for college.)

The New America analysis differentiated between reforming work-study and other programs (as others have proposed before Trump) and making deep cuts in the program. “Studies of the work-study program have shown students receiving work-study are more likely to graduate and be employed after graduation. And these positive effects are larger for low-income students who attend public institutions. One-third of American undergraduates are working 35 hours per week and half are working at least part time. Finding ways to help these students balance their jobs with their studies is more needed than ever. Reallocating the work-study allocation makes sense; cutting it significantly does not.”

AP EXPLAINS: Could Pell Grants work year-round?

WASHINGTON — Pell Grants have been a fixture of federal financial aid since the 1970s, helping about 8 million low-income students attend college each year.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now considering allowing students to use the grants year-round, rather than just for two semesters in any given year. She raised the possibility during a visit last week to a community college in Florida.

A look at the program, its past and its future.


WHAT ARE PELL GRANTS?

Pell Grants are a federal aid program aimed at helping low income students fund post-secondary education, including four-year college programs, community colleges, associate degree and certificate programs. Currently, Pell Grants benefit some 8 million students across the country and the maximum annual grant is about $5,800. Funded at around $29 billion a year, Pell Grants are a key tool for the federal government to fund college education for the disadvantaged.

The program gets its name from former Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, one of its key champions.


YEAR-ROUND PELL GRANTS

Pell Grants have traditionally been used to fund a student’s fall and spring semester studies. When the spring semester was over, the student had to reapply for the next academic year, which started in the fall. But as more and more students now opt for taking classes over the summer in order to graduate and get a job more quickly, there is demand for year-round Pell Grants, also known as summer Pells. “If someone who is eligible for a Pell Grant is going full time and wants to continue to pursue their education for the third semester, there is no good reason the program should not allow them to access another grant,” said Jason Delisle, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


PELL EXPANSION

The Obama administration sought to expend Pell Grants even further. Last year, the Department of Education piloted a program that allowed some 10,000 young people who are attending high schools, but are also taking college-credit classes, to access $20 million in grants. The department also piloted the $30 million Second Chance Pell pilot program that lets 12,000 prison inmates enroll in post-secondary education courses at the correction facilities. The future of those programs is uncertain as the full budget proposal for next year has not yet been released.


BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Historically, Pell Grants have enjoyed support on both sides of the aisle. Democrats favor Pell Grants because they mostly benefit the poor, while Republicans back them because they provide students with the flexibility to study at their own pace and graduate earlier. Year-round Pells existed briefly in 2009-2011, but were eliminated mostly due to funding shortages. Last year, Democrats and Republicans joined forces to introduce a bipartisan Senate bill on year-round Pell Grants, but the House blocked it. With DeVos now considering the measure, experts are cautiously optimistic that Summer Pells may be reintroduced. In a statement to the AP, Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, called year-round Pell Grants “one of the most important things” that can be done for college students and vowed to make extending the program his priority. “We are more hopeful now about the possibility of reinstating year-round Pell Grants than we have been in five years,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education.


FUNDING

Hartle estimated that offering students the summer grant would cost an additional $2 billion per year and it is unclear where the money would come from, given that the Trump administration has proposed to slash overall Pell Grant funding by $3.9 billion in the next year’s budget and an additional $1.3 billion this year. “It is at a very basic level a no-brainer,” Hartle said. “The challenge is that there is a financial cost associated with it.” Experts said that the necessary funding could come from either making fewer students eligible for the grants, or making the grants smaller or at the expense of some other program at the Education Department or some other agency. Patty Murry, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, said she is glad that DeVos will consider expanding Pell Grants, but she is unsure how that idea squares with the budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

Trump’s Education Department nixes Obama-era grant program for school diversity


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reads to second grade students at Carderock Springs Elementary School in Bethesda, Md., on March 23. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s Education Department has decided to nix an Obama-era grant program meant to help local districts devise ways to boost socioeconomic diversity within their schools, a program that some advocates considered a barometer of the new administration’s commitment to integrated classrooms.

An Education Department official said the $12 million grant program was discontinued because it would not be a wise use of tax dollars, in part because the money was to be used for planning, not implementation. The decision says nothing about the administration’s interest in diversity, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, speaking at the Brookings Institution Wednesday, said she believes socioeconomic and racial diversity is “a real benefit in schools.” But advocates say her words don’t match her actions.

“This was the secretary’s first opportunity to show her commitment to school diversity, and she failed to come through,” said Philip Tegeler of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, one of nearly two dozen scholars and advocates who wrote a letter to DeVos earlier this month, urging her to move forward with the program.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus had also urged the secretary to maintain the program, calling it a “small, but meaningful, federal investment in school diversity,” and pointing out that successful modern integration efforts often rely on expanding choice for parents — something DeVos heartily endorses.

Research has shown that poor children who go to mixed-income schools fare better academically than poor children who go to high-poverty schools, and that such integration doesn’t hurt the performance of affluent kids. And yet U.S. public schools have become more segregated by race and class over the past two decades, according to a federal analysis released last year.

The diversity grants, called “Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities,” were announced in December by then-Education Secretary John B. King Jr., who used his yearlong tenure at the helm of the agency to bring new attention to the advantages of integrated schools. Many advocates, who had been disappointed by federal inaction on school diversity issues during much of President Barack Obama’s administration, cheered the grants as a small but symbolic move.

The Trump administration’s decision to pull the grant money feels similarly symbolic, they said. “I’m very concerned that if the Trump administration is not willing to continue even a small program for school diversity, then it’s clearly not much of a priority for them,” said Richard Kahlenberg, an expert in school integration and senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

Trump and DeVos have made clear that they believe the Education Department is too big, and has its hands in too many issues that should be handled by states and local districts.

In January, 26 school districts from across the country said they intended to apply for the grants, which — according to a Federal Register notice — were designed to help local officials boost student achievement by devising blueprints for “innovative, effective, ambitious, comprehensive, and locally driven strategies to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools.”

The money came from funds set aside for improving student achievement at the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

The dollars were authorized during fiscal year 2016, and so moving forward with the program would not have required new spending by the department, which faces $9 billion in cuts under President Trump’s proposed budget. It is not clear how or whether the Education Department intends to spend the money now; if it hasn’t been spent by the end of September, it will be returned to the general treasury.

Tanya Clay House, a former Education Department official who played a key role in designing the grant program, said the decision to do away with the program feels like a “slap in the face.” The money is there, she said. “Why not allow the districts to use it?”

Bethlehem Area superintendent: Betsy DeVos dead wrong in saying federal grants don’t work on struggling schools

Earlier today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said School Improvement Grants have not produced significant improvements in schools, The Associated Press reported.

But Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy says DeVos is wrong. An economically disadvantaged Bethlehem Area elementary school that has received a School Improvement Grant has closed the achievement gap, he said.

The School Improvement Grants were implemented in 2010-2015 under then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan and aimed to improve struggling schools.

“At what point do we accept the fact that throwing money at the problem isn’t the solution?” Devos asked at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s not policy making.”

Proposed federal cuts worry school officials

The fiscal 2018 budget proposal for Gloucester’s public schools includes more than $27 million for salaries.

More than $1 million of that spending is funded through a variety of grants — the vast majority from federal government aid.

So while Superintendent Richard Safier is looking for budget support from City Hall, he also has an eye cast toward Washington, where President Donald J. Trump’s fiscal 2018 federal budget proposal calls for cuts of 13 percent — more than $9 billion — in federal aid to education.

The Trump budget does not refer to any dramatic changes to federal special education funding, which pays $590,390 in salaries to Gloucester providers who work in those programs.

But the federal proposal calls for changes within the so-called Title 1 program that targets schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. It would also eliminate a $2.4 billion program — called Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II — that provides money for teachers and professional development.

Title I made Beeman better

The proposed Trump changes to Title 1, which funds $383,924 in salaries paid to reading specialists working in Gloucester’s Beeman Memorial, Veterans Memorial and East Gloucester elementary schools, include a funding increase of $1 billion. But the boost comes with the caveat that any such money would not be steered to schools or districts, but to individual students and families who could use enhanced “school choice” options to go to other districts or schools.

“It’s not clear, and there’s a lot we don’t know,” Safier said Monday. “But it does sound as if it is one potential incentive for choice, and that’s something that is worrisome.

“My understanding is that the (proposed) federal budget is looking at cuts to domestic programs in general, and $9 billion for education,” he added. “So clearly, we don’t know the details, but it is cause for concern.”

Ellen Sibley, who is retiring this June as principal at Beeman School, said changes to the Title I program could be felt dearly. Beeman has two reading instructors whose salary is covered by the Title I grants.

“They do really good work, they’re very highly qualified, and they’re experts in reading instruction,” Sibley said. “They are very skilled not only in diagnosing reading skills, but in recognizing what skills and exercises will help the students learn.

“They are part of the reason that the school functions as well as it does,” she added. Beeman’s standardized Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores improved last year and raised Beeman from a Level 3 to Level 2 school under the state Department of Education’s assessment system. The change lifted the entire district from Level 3 — ranked among the lower 20 percent of all Massachusetts districts — to the more stable Level 2.

Dollars would follow student

The elimination of the so-called Title II program would cost Gloucester only $5,000 in salary but more in other projects. The program is designed to serve teachers and administrators across the school system, assistant superintendent Arthur Unobskey said.

“It’s designed to improve quality and effectiveness of staff,” he said. “It’s money for professional development, both for consultants to come in and for teachers to develop curriculum. It mainly pays for professional development helping teachers and administrators have access to the very best in professional development.”

The Trump education budget proposal calls for districts and schools using Title I money to adopt a system of “student-based budgeting” and “open enrollment” that enables federal, state and local funding to “follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.”

The elimination of the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program aims to cut a funding stream that is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact,” the budget proposal reads.

The Trump budget is geared for the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, while the city schools’ budget — like those for other school districts across the state — is due to take effect July 1. The $41.2 million Gloucester schools budget endorsed by the School Committee last week faces a pubic hearing April 5 at 7 p.m. at school administration headquarters in Blackburn Industrial Park. Potential changes as part of the overall city budget are still to come from Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken.

“We won’t know that these salaries will be covered (by federal funding) until after our new school year is started,” Safier said. “That’s something we all have to keep an eye on.”

Staff writer Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.

Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, Moody’s …


President Trump (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

President Trump’s budget proposal to slash federal research funding and end financial support for the arts could hurt the bottom line of colleges and universities that rely on those government dollars, Moody’s Investors Service said Tuesday.

The White House budget, released earlier this month, dials back discretionary funding for agencies that pour billions of dollars into higher education. If Congress passes the budget as proposed, Moody’s analysts say it would add financial stress to a number of colleges and universities.

The credit rating agency warns that the proposed $5.8 billion cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health would have the most significant impact on higher education. Roughly 80 percent of NIH’s budget supports grants to 300,000 researchers at universities across the country. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, for instance, was awarded $651 million in NIH funding in 2016, while University of California at San Francisco received $578 million.

Universities with diversified research portfolios, large operating budgets, significant revenue and strong fundraising capabilities, like Johns Hopkins or Yale University, could adjust to the reduction in federal funding over several years, according to Moody’s. However, schools without those sorts of resources would struggle.

“The more concentrated the research is in the identified areas for cuts, the more vulnerable the institution,” said Susan I. Fitzgerald, associate managing director at Moody’s.

Because the White House budget lacks much detail, analysts say it’s difficult to tell whether an increase in the Department of Defense budget will benefit universities with defense-related research projects. There are also no specifics on funding for the National Science Foundation, an agency with a $7.5 billion budget that funds about a quarter of the federally backed research at colleges and universities.

Moody’s analysts are also concerned about the ripple effects of the proposed elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many of the schools rated by Moody’s receive grants from both entities, though the awards are a small portion of their budgets. Still, those grants often fund programs that are appealing to students and donors, who might lose interest in the school if certain arts programs disappear, Fitzgerald said.

Analysts at Moody’s say the budget constraints facing the Education Department might not create much financial strain for colleges and universities. Holding the line on discretionary funding for the Pell Grant program would have no financial impact on universities, they say. Yet the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and reduction in Federal Work Study funding could place minor stress on the budgets of the roughly 550 schools rated by Moody’s. The two programs combined are less than 2.5 percent of total operating revenue for those schools, but the elimination would add pressure on already thin operating margins for colleges with budget problems.

The proposed spending cuts come at a time when some state legislatures are calling for a reduction in public higher education funding to close budget deficits.

“We’re in budget season right now and higher ed funding in many states is coming under pressure. Cuts at both the federal level and the state level would certainly cause pressure for public universities,” Fitzgerald said.

Read more about the White House budget’s impact on higher education:

College-prep programs for the poor slashed in Trump’s budget

After White House courts HBCUs, budget disappoints school leaders

In Trump’s budget: The unwisest cut

Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, Moody’s warns


President Trump (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

President Trump’s budget proposal to slash federal research funding and end financial support for the arts could hurt the bottom line of colleges and universities that rely on those government dollars, Moody’s Investors Service said Tuesday.

The White House budget, released earlier this month, dials back discretionary funding for agencies that pour billions of dollars into higher education. If Congress passes the budget as proposed, Moody’s analysts say it would add financial stress to a number of colleges and universities.

The credit rating agency warns that the proposed $5.8 billion cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health would have the most significant impact on higher education. Roughly 80 percent of NIH’s budget supports grants to 300,000 researchers at universities across the country. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, for instance, was awarded $651 million in NIH funding in 2016, while University of California at San Francisco received $578 million.

Universities with diversified research portfolios, large operating budgets, significant revenue and strong fundraising capabilities, like Johns Hopkins or Yale University, could adjust to the reduction in federal funding over several years, according to Moody’s. However, schools without those sorts of resources would struggle.

“The more concentrated the research is in the identified areas for cuts, the more vulnerable the institution,” said Susan I. Fitzgerald, associate managing director at Moody’s.

Because the White House budget lacks much detail, analysts say it’s difficult to tell whether an increase in the Department of Defense budget will benefit universities with defense-related research projects. There are also no specifics on funding for the National Science Foundation, an agency with a $7.5 billion budget that funds about a quarter of the federally backed research at colleges and universities.

Moody’s analysts are also concerned about the ripple effects of the proposed elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many of the schools rated by Moody’s receive grants from both entities, though the awards are a small portion of their budgets. Still, those grants often fund programs that are appealing to students and donors, who might lose interest in the school if certain arts programs disappear, Fitzgerald said.

Analysts at Moody’s say the budget constraints facing the Education Department might not create much financial strain for colleges and universities. Holding the line on discretionary funding for the Pell Grant program would have no financial impact on universities, they say. Yet the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and reduction in Federal Work Study funding could place minor stress on the budgets of the roughly 550 schools rated by Moody’s. The two programs combined are less than 2.5 percent of total operating revenue for those schools, but the elimination would add pressure on already thin operating margins for colleges with budget problems.

The proposed spending cuts come at a time when some state legislatures are calling for a reduction in public higher education funding to close budget deficits.

“We’re in budget season right now and higher ed funding in many states is coming under pressure. Cuts at both the federal level and the state level would certainly cause pressure for public universities,” Fitzgerald said.

Read more about the White House budget’s impact on higher education:

College-prep programs for the poor slashed in Trump’s budget

After White House courts HBCUs, budget disappoints school leaders

In Trump’s budget: The unwisest cut

Federal education budget follows Arizona’s lead

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Federal cuts could cost Hawkins schools $500000+

CHURCH HILL — During a Thursday evening, March 23, budget workshop at Volunteer High School, the Hawkins Co. Board of Education learned that the school system likely will receive considerably less federal money during the next fiscal year.

When it comes to state funding, meanwhile, Director of Schools Steve Starnes said that local officials won’t receive until mid-April the school system’s first state Basic Education Program (BEP) estimate of funding for the next fiscal year.

Starnes said the state’s Spring Fiscal Workshop is scheduled for April 24-25 and that he hopes a clearer picture might emerge at that time of what local boards can expect.

Starnes noted that in past years, local school officials have learned during that spring workshop if the governor plans to add money to his budget for state teacher salary increases. If that were to happen, Starnes said, local school systems must dedicate a portion of their BEP funding to teacher pay raises as well.

Starnes said media reports indicate that President Trump plans to increase defense and homeland security spending while cutting other areas.

“One of those areas (facing cuts) could potentially be education,” Starnes said. But he cautioned that the federal budget is, at present, only at the proposal stage and that any cuts will have to be approved by Congress.

But even without the possible future cuts, the county system had received on Thursday a “preliminary allocation” of Federal Programs funds that reflects a reduction of $265,000.

“The Federal Programs budget starts Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31,” Starnes said. “The budget year for the (U.S. federal) budget year is Nov. 1 through Oct. 31. Of course we’re on a July 1 to June 30 budget year. All this doesn’t line up a lot of times. If we don’t spend all of our federal project funds this year, we will have a carry over. We can’t carry over more than 15 percent.”

Starnes noted that should the school system have not spend the remaining 25 percent of its Federal programs funds at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, it would have to spend 10 percent of the remaining funds between July 1 and Aug. 30 in order to meet the federal requirement of not carrying over more than 15 percent into the new budget year.

Starnes noted that President Trump’s initial budget proposal for the next federal fiscal year calls for eliminating federal Title II educational funding entirely. He said that, as a result, the county schools could start the 2017-18 fiscal year with Title II funds and have them eliminated when the new federal fiscal year begins Nov. 1.

“That’s kind of what we’re up against,” Starnes told the BOE. “There are a lot of unknowns here that will have an effect. Also, 21st Century Learning grants are proposed to be cut entirely. That will definitely affect Keplar Elementary School, which has received that grant for a number of years.”

In a subsequent interview, Starnes said Keplar has funded its before-school, after- school and summer-school programs with a 21st Century Learning grant.

Starnes noted the Rogersville Middle School has applied for a 21st Century Learning grant similar to the one that Keplar Elementary is currently using.

“We will have to wait and see how that shakes out,” Starnes said.

Starnes then called on Dr. Reba Bailey, the system’s Director of Federal Programs, to give an update about what she recently learned about impending changes to federal education funding.

Dr. Bailey reminded the BOE that all of Hawkins County’s Kindergarten through 8th grade schools are now classified as federal Title I schools and all receive federal educational dollars as a result. But because of recent changes in the way schools become qualified for Title I funding, up to three Hawkins County schools may not qualify for school-wide Title I funding in the future.

Dr. Bailey described that prospect as “heartbreaking.”

In a later interview, Starnes said Hawkins County has traditionally relied on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches to meet the federal standard for a school to qualify for school-wide federal Title I funding.

Historically, Starnes said that between 63% and 68% of Hawkins County students have qualified for free or reduced lunches.

But federal officials now plan to require school systems to use “direct certification” as the measure to determine if students (and, as a result, their schools) qualify for federal Title I funding.

He noted that direct-certification means that the families of students must be receiving some type of state aid in order for the students to qualify for federal Title I funding.

“That eliminates the working poor,” Starnes said. “Those who are too proud to accept state aid.”

With direct-certification used as the means of determining eligibility for Title I funding, Starnes said, only about 39.5% of county students will qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Starnes explained that when 63% of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, the county school system received about $2.239 million in federal Title I funding annually. With only 39.5% qualifying for Title I funding using the new direct-certification method, Hawkins’ schools stand to receive about $2.228 million in Title I funding.

That, Starnes said, means the school system will receive at least $101,000 less in Title I funding per year. “There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Starnes said.

Other action

Also during the March 23 workshop, the BOE discussed, but took no action on:

• The supplements paid to sports coaches and other school personnel who perform duties outside those normally assigned to them. Director Starnes noted that the current supplements have been unchanged since the 2012-13 school year. The BOE might consider updating the supplements during its April 6 meeting, according to Starnes.

• Proposed non-certified salary scales (those of employees who do not hold teaching certificates), Starnes said discussion focused on a possible $2-per-day increase versus a three-percent increase.

• A possible six-percent increase in employee health insurance costs. Starnes said the potential increase is slightly less than the one (6.1 percent) that Hawkins County Schools experienced for the current fiscal year.

• The options connected to the proposed 2017 mowing contract. Starnes said the mowing options include everything from sticking with the current mowing system in which a contractor mows most school campuses while school employees mow some properties to having a contractor mow everything to having all mowing done in-house.

• Starnes said that Five Year Capital projects currently scheduled for the 2017-18 fiscal year include: installation of new bleaches at Surgoinsville Elementary School, section one of Church Hill Middle School roof replacement project and the “old” section of the Bulls Gap School roof.

What The Trump Budget Proposal Could Mean For Colorado Education



Alejandro Fuentes, a teacher at KIPP Montbello College Prep in Denver, Colorado, takes questions from his students on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is creating new lists of winners and losers. Military spending goes up while money for education goes down — by about 13 percent.

The budget proposal also gives us an idea of the administration’s priorities for education. It makes cuts but also puts more money into independently run charter schools and to an unspecified “new private school choice program.”

Colorado schools get about 8 percent of their funds from the federal government, mostly money designated for high poverty schools and students with disabilities. That works out to $443 million for K-12 education and about $194 million from the US Department of Agriculture for child and nutrition and food distribution grants (school breakfasts and lunches). It could be months before Congressional lawmakers decide which elements of the budget to accept or reject but we wanted to look at how things would stack up for Colorado in the education arena.

Title II

Trump has proposed eliminating the program for hiring and training teachers and principals.

Colorado Impact: $25 million

Most Colorado districts have not yet calculated what a Title II cut would mean, but Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest district, puts the number at $5 million. That includes eliminating 50 “instructional deans” who help coach and teach teachers in some of the district’s highest needs schools. The JeffCo district gets just under $2 million, to pay for specialists who do side-by-side planning with teachers, professional development, coaching help after teacher evaluations, among other things.

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Trump has proposed eliminating this competitive grant program that funds before- and after-school programs and programs to lengthen the school day for academic enrichment.

Colorado Impact: $11 million

Denver Public Schools has calculated eliminating these programs amounts to $1.2 million, affecting 2,000 children in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Statewide, 76 percent of students in the programs showed improved academic performance.

Corporation For National And Community Service

Trump has proposed eliminating this federal program that finances a number of programs in public schools run by Senior Corps and AmeriCorps.

Colorado Impact: $35 million

Programs include City Year Denver, 72 college graduates assist more than 3,880 students at risk of dropping out: help with homework, attendance, offer after-school programs; Mile High United Way’s Reading Corps, helps third graders who aren’t reading at grade level, Senior Corps RSVP, which works in 20 Adams/East Arapahoe schools to help struggling second and third grade readers; PlayWorks, which uses play to build low-income children’s social and emotional health at 10 schools, Clayton Early Learning’s Ready to Read program, which helps families boost children’s oral language and vocabulary skills in schools and at home.

Impact Aid

Trump has proposed eliminating or reducing federal money that helps school districts that have a lot of non-taxable federal property like military bases or Native American reservations.

Colorado Impact: $35 million

This will affect 14 Colorado districts, including Fountain 8 that encompasses the Fort Carson army base. That district receives more than $25 million. The second biggest impact would be on Adams 12 Five Star Schools, which receives more than $2.5 million.

College Access

The White House’s budget outline would cut TRIO and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (known as GEAR UP), which help prepare low-income children, disabled and first-generation college students for college. It includes scholarship assistance.

Colorado Impact: Colorado’s $5 million GEAR UP grant currently serves 3,500 students in 16 high schools and approximately 108 colleges (includes scholarships to colleges Colorado high school graduates attend out of state.) TRIO grants go directly to institutions and the Colorado Department of Higher Education doesn’t track those.

Student Financial Aid

The Trump administration’s preliminary budget keeps Pell funding level but would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which provides need based aid.

Colorado Impact: Colorado institutions of higher education receive about $10.5 million and annually serve about 17,000 students across public and private institutions. Institutions may be able to backfill some of loss but that is unlikely with small rural 2-year colleges.

Private School Choice Program

Trump is proposing adding $250 million dollars to create an unspecified “new private school choice program.” Education observers predict that will take the form of a federal scholarship tax credit program. Donors give money to a non-profit scholarship granting organization that provides scholarships/vouchers to low-income children to attend private school. Donor receives federal tax credit. On the campaign trail, Trump promised $20 billion dollars devoted to private school choice, so this could greatly expand in the Republican tax proposal.

Colorado Impact: Unclear as details not released yet

Luke Ragland, president of Ready Colorado, says Florida’s tax credit program has shown big gains in student learning. On the other hand, Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center says an evaluation of Florida’s law shows voucher-receiving students produced insignificant changes in reading and math scores.

Charter Schools

Trump has proposed a $168 million increase to a federal charter school grant program currently funded at $333 million dollars. Charters are public schools that are independently run.

Colorado Impact: For the 2015-2018 school years, Colorado received $36 million in funding, or $11 million annually for charter school startups or expansions. The program is a competitive grant program (here are the schools who have received funds so far) so there is no guarantee Colorado would receive funding after 2018.

$1 Billion Increase To Title I Program

Trump has promised $1 billion in new funds for Title I, which is currently funded at $15 billion. Title I funds districts with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. However, the money would be used to encourage school districts to allow funding to “follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.”

Colorado Impact: The Colorado Department of Education does not have enough details to calculate an impact.