Trump DOE budget cuts federal education programs

The Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2018 budget Tuesday, including a proposal to cut $10.6 billion from the federal Department of Education (DOE) and add $1.4 billion for “school choice” programs.

If the budget were enacted as presented, Kansas schools could lose roughly $60 million in federal funding that supports smaller class sizes, teacher training, after-school and summer school programs and the education of military-connected children.

The federal DOE budget recommendation would eliminate $18 million in Kansas Title II funding, eliminate the 21st Century Learning Center grant program that funnels $8 million to Kansas schools, and zero out the Impact Aid for Federal Property program that compensates Kansas schools for $30 million in foregone property taxes and for education costs associated with military-connected students.

Kansas schools use Title II funds for teacher professional development, to lower class sizes, promote STEM initiatives, and many other purposes. School districts use 21st Century Learning Center grants to offer before- and after- school programs and summer school.

Trump’s DOE budget adds $1.4 billion to Title I for public and private school choice programs, with a goal of appropriating $20 billion annually for those initiatives. It also includes $168 million for charter schools. In Kansas, charter schools operate under the supervision of the locally-elected board of education. In 2015-16, there were 10 charter schools in the state.

The Trump budget proposal also adds $250 million for a new private school choice program. Private school choice initiatives, often referred to as “vouchers,” generally direct education tax dollars away from public schools to help subsidize the tuition of private and religious schools. In Kansas, state law allows corporations to receive a tax break in exchange for donations to an organization that grants scholarships to low-income children who wish to leave low-performing Kansas public schools to enroll in “participating qualified schools,” all of which are private or religious schools.

Additional cuts in the DOE budget include eliminating the $400 million Title IV student support and academic enrichment program and paring $196 million in career and technical education funding.

KASB is reviewing the newly-released budget and will report further after a full analysis.

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