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limits on the whole local community to meet increased educational expenses resulting from Federal programs. This constitutes a substantial abdication of responsibility, not a fulfillment of it.
The 3 percent absorption provision of Public Law 248, amending Public Law 874 is just such an abdication. Over the country, it has resulted in an average reduction of entitlement of almost one-quarter. Responsibility cannot be adequately expressed in terms of percentage, but the effect of this 3 percent absorption rate indicates to me that we have forsaken a substantial part of our public trust in a vital area of national well-being.
AND OPERATIONS EXPENSES NOT ECONOMICAL
It is conceivable that interests of economy have resulted in a lessening in our sense of responsibility toward local school districts under this program. Yet the prospect of Government financed school buildings going to waste because no funds are avaliable for maintenance is not a cheery one from the point of view of long-run efficiency.
Still, some would proffer the advice that local districts should be content with what they get and not look their gift horse in the mouth. To this I can only add that, if this horse is indeed a gift horse, it is a Trojan horse. If we provide for the construction of school facilities first, then withdraw our maintenance and operations support later before the local communities have a demonstrable ability to pick up these added costs, we should not be surprised if the gift of 1953 becomes the millstone of 1955. This sort of program meets budgetary aims but it does not meet the responsibility that belongs to the Federal Government because of activities it has undertaken.
THREE PERCENT ABSORPTION CLAUSE NOT EQUITABLE
In this program, as in so many others, the excess of applications over appropriations has worked a hardship on many applicants. Even so, the funds which are made available are distributed on a prorated basis by the Department of Education. Despite some criticisms, the proration formula is generally equitable. On the other hand, the 3 percent absorption clause amends the original law so as to distribute funds in a most inequitable fashion. It requires that a district shall absorb the costs of maintaining school facilities for as many Federal children as shall equal 3 percent of the non-Federal children in that district.
As table 2 shows, in one district this means a reduction in entitlement of 1.7 percent, in another of 100 percent. The 3 percent provision does not say: "Each school district shall hereafter assume 21 percent of the responsibility previously taken by the Federal Government," although 21 percent turns out to be the Illinois average cutback. It says: "If you are a large school district with a substantial impact on schoolhouse A and a negligible impact on B, C, and D, you must diffuse the impact of the 1 schoolhouse over all 4 schoolhouses.
"But if, on the other hand, you are a small district, with only schoolhouse A to account for, then you are algebraically blessed and the Federal Government will grant you fuller entitlement."
3 PERCENT ABSORPTION CLAUSE INHIBITS DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION
In light of this, it would seem as though those who wish to reduce Federal expenditures under Public Law 874 also want to go on record as opposing the consolidation of school districts, for the 3 percent absorption rate offers affected areas an incentive to stay small. This point of view would seem to be at variance with the oft-heard argument that Federal aid to education curtails the trend toward consolidation and efficient operation. The most lucid criticisms of the maintenance and operations program have been based on just this point. It is said that a program of assistance in many instances destroys the incentive for local units to consolidate and improve their own economic position because it allays the need from which the incentive rises.
Thus, between the arguments advanced in opposition to the aid program generally and the actual effects of the reduction resulting from the 3 percent absorption rate, there is a manifest contradiction. Federal aid is opposed because of its assumed effect upon local district consolidations. But here, in fact, the reduction in Federal aid has this very effect.
Aside from my views on the 3 percent absorption provision, I am hard put to accept the position that Federal aid will promote administrative slovenliness at
the level of local districts. Because this is a program of aid for districts which are in a period of change, and because the amount of funds allocated under Public Law 874 constitute only part of those necessary, I feel that this program can actually provide a stimulus for increased efficiency. This is especially true if the Commissioner of Education fulfills the discretionary role accorded to him under both Public Law 815 and Public Law 874. It will be recalled that the existing law gives him the authority to waive certain requirements in extraordinary situations, determine the local contribution rate, and deduct from entitlement funds accruing to the local agency pertaining to the education of Federal children.
In summation, it seems to me to be proper to describe the 3 percent absorption clause as a device for partially divesting the Federal Government of a responsibility it undertook in the passage of Public Law 874. Although the responsibility of the Government to aid in the education of a Federal child can hardly be deemed contingent upon the size of the school district in question, this assumption apparently underlies the inequity of the clause in instances such as that described above.
Finally, it appears that the defenders of this provision are willing to risk inadequate education and deteriorating facilities tomorrow for rock-ribbed economy today. I am a stanch advocate of economy myself, but it seems to me a great tragedy that so many who pursue statistical economy can never see beyond the bindings of their ledgers. If they could, perhaps then it might be realized that the budget is only a means to an end, and that when we are educating human beings, economy is determined by the value of the end, not the frugality of the
The Federal Government should not now in my view reduce its assistance in meeting this emergency which it has created. I hope both S. 3628 and S. 3629 will be favorably reported by the committee.
TABLE 1.-Illinois applicants under Public Law 815, as amended by Public Law 246
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE
TABLE 2.-Public Law 874, as amended-List of applicant school districts and
TABLE 2.-Public Law 874, as amended-List of applicant school districts and estimated entitlements, fiscal year 1954 and fiscal year 1955 (showing effects of 3 percent absorption on entitlement and total expenditures of districts) —Continued
Hon. PAUL DOUGLAS,
COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 123,
United States Senator, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. DOUGLAS: Unless Senate bill 3629 becomes law, our district stands to lose yearly between $5,000 and $6,000. We will appreciate your efforts on behalf of this bill.
Failure of this bill to pass will seriously handicap other school districts in our State.
WILLIAM E. HERBSTER, Superintendent.
School's loss from 3 percent absorption which we may expect unless the law is changed
1. Total average daily attendance
2. Average daily attendance sec. 3 (a).
3. 1/2 of the average daily attendance sec. 3 (b).
4. Sum of items 2 and 3 (Federal pupils).
5. Item 1 minus item 4 (non-Federal pupils).
6. Pupil loss (3 percent of item 5 non-Federal pupils)
7. Total local contribution rate___.
8. Monetary loss in funds (item 6 X item 7).
Senator PAUL DOUGLAS,
$457. 18 $5, 381. 00
PARK FOREST, ILL., July 12, 1954.
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.:
Cook County District 173 needs and qualifies for assistance under Public Law 815 for 19 classrooms and an increase of 42 pupils. Please file this information with the Education Committee for the hearing tomorrow. Your assistance in securing extensions Public Law 815 will be appreciated.
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS.
Senator UPTON. Are there any others who wish to be heard at this time?
If not, the hearing is closed.
(Whereupon, at 1 p. m., the hearing was adjourned.)