Compromise Reached on Stimulus Package; School Modernization Reportedly Back
[Editor's note: Updated information on the stimulus package can be found here. --D.N.]
Federal lawmakers have reportedly reached a compromise between the House and Senate stimulus package bills. Although details have not been released, there are reports that some funds for school modernization have been restored in the compromise package.
In the version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed Tuesday by the Senate, there were several compromises that reduced the original bill's allocations targeted toward education-related programs, in particular school construction funds for modernization, while some remained unchanged, such as education technology in the form of EETT.
The original House bill called for $14 billion for K-12 school modernization, and the Senate's bill at one point had the figure at $16 billion. However, in the Senate's version, passed Tuesday, school modernization was cut completely.
Now news agencies are reporting that a compromise between the House and Senate bills has been reached and that some $9 billion in funds have been restored for school modernization.
President Barack Obama has continued to push for improved school facilities in public appearances this week. In a press conference Monday night, President Obama invoked the image of a dilapidated school and asked, "... [W]hy wouldn't we want to build state of the art schools with science labs that are teaching our kids the skills they need for the 21st century, that will enhance our economy, and, by the way, right now will create jobs?"
One other reported change is in the area of special education. IDEA, which had been funded at $13.6 billion in the House version and $13.5 billion in the Senate version, is reduced to $11.7 billion in the new compromise package.
It is unknown right now what other changes in the compromise bill will impact education. At last tally, the EETT program (Enhancing Education Through Technology), which is part of Title II Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act, was earmarked for $1.07 billion, a drastic increase from recent years. EETT is designed to support the deployment and integration of educational technology into classroom instruction. Under NCLB, it has provided the sole source of federal funding specifically supporting education technologies. And, during the Bush years, it had consistently been a target for budget cuts. It's highest level of funding was $696 million in 2004, which decreased to $267.5 million in FY 2008.
There are several other, less substantial differences between the House and Senate bills as well. A list of differences between the two versions of the stimulus package follows.
|Differences Between Senate, House, and New Compromise Stimulus Packages for K-12 Education
|IDEA (special education)
||$11.7 billion (reportedly)
|Education for homeless children
|Teacher incentive fund
|K-12 school modernization program
||$9 billion (reportedly)
|Head start/early start
|Advanced broadband program
Both houses are expected to vote on the compromise measure this week.
--Geoffrey H. Fletcher contributed to this article.