NSBA analysis of Trump’s education budget proposal shows impact on schools

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has released an initial analysis of President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for the Department of Education (DOE), which eliminates several programs important to Kansas schools and directs additional funding to “school choice” programs.

The Trump education budget proposal cuts $10.6 billion from the DOE budget, including roughly $60 million in federal funds that go to Kansas schools. Eliminated in the proposal are Title II, the 21st Century Learning Center grants program and Impact Aid to school districts. Here is an overview of federal funds sent to Kansas.

Kansas schools use Title II funding 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. Impact aid compensates school districts for property taxes they do not receive due to the presence of tax-exempt federal installations such as military bases or tribal trust lands in or near their school districts.

“School Choice”

According to NSBA, the proposed DOE budget adds $334 million to Title I, which serves disadvantaged children and is the largest program in the federal education budget. Title I is changed, however, to reflect the administration’s preference for directing additional funding to “school choice” initiatives.

The document also suggests school districts use Title I funds to pay for programs cut elsewhere in the DOE budget.

Trump calls for the DOE to offer $1 billion in funding for FOCUS (Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success) grants for local education agencies to “implement weighted student funding formulas combined with open enrollment systems.” The administration pledges in the document to funnel $20 billion in future funding to FOCUS grants, which would follow students to the school they attend. In Kansas, state per-pupil funding follows a public school student to another public district, provided the second district agrees to or can accept that student. The Trump proposal appears to give additional incentives to local boards of education to adopt or expand upon open-enrollment policies to capture more federal dollars.

The FY 2018 budget proposal adds $250 million to pay for low-income students to attend the private school of their choice. These types of programs, often referred to as “vouchers,” are among Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ stated priorities for public education in the United States. 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.

The budget also pegs total charter school funding at $500 million. 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.

Special Education

The administration proposes $119 billion in funding to students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), level with FY 2017. Average per pupil expenditures in FY 2018 are proposed at $1,742 per child, compared with $1,777 in FY 17. Federal contributions to excess costs remains at 15 percent.

Career and Technical Education

The Trump proposal cuts funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) by $166 million from the current $950 million. According to the administration, this funding supports CTE initiatives while also providing the “fiscal discipline” to support national security and public safety priorities.

School Lunch

The National School Lunch program, which is funded in the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget, is slated to receive $13 billion in federal money, up from $12.4 billion in FY 2017.

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