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I am very happy that the chairman has taken the lead in introducing this legislation. I was happy to join him in cosponsoring it.
In the period we had earlier in this session when the Commissioner of Education and his staff appeared it became very apparent to those of us on the committee-although the Commissioner himself was very much concerned that his people had not spent very much time trying to anticipate the coming of the time when what was formerly the simplest distribution formula that we had in any education bill was to become the most complex.
He convinced me when he presented me with a four-page plastic overlay that I studied all morning long. Even with a background in preengineering I had great difficulty trying to understand. All I understood was that if we should send this into motion now we would have school superintendents storming this place.
As a result of that hearing the Commissioner acknowledged that he was not ready and his Department was not ready to proceed.
While chairing the hearing I suggested to the Commissioner that perhaps he could assign his people to work with the impact aid organization. I understand that happened, that you are one of the people who participated.
Dr. FISH. Yes, sir.
Mr. FORD. Was that a joint effort that arose out of the understanding with the Commissioner and his people, following his instructions, and the people in the impact aid organization?
The figures you presented this morning showing the distributions were developed?
Dr. FISH. Yes, sir, they were.
Mr. FORD. So it actually had the Office of Education developing the criteria by which you made the measurement interpreting the formula and you were using the impact aid organization solely for the purpose of gathering for the Office of Education the information that they agreed would give them the basis to make this determination.
Dr. FISH. Yes; that is correct.
Mr. FORD. I think that is a fine example of cooperation between the local school superintendents and the Office of Education. It leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of administering a program nationwide.
I assume these figures would be tempered by the degree of anxiety and amount of time that local superintendents had available to do this job.
Dr. FISH. A very large number of reports that came back to us, in reviewing them against the data which the Office of Education supplied in terms of contribution rates that applied, data like that we had to correct. We had to reinterpret the figures. Where they were dealing with two categories we are now dealing with 12.
Mr. FORD. Dr. Fish, as a matter of fact, with the rather intricate additional factors, the changes that were made in the formula which constituted adding additional factors, many school districts would have to guess; wouldn't they?
Aren't we now asking you to determine for eligibility at the local level and ultimately then at the national level factors for the distribution of funds that were not formerly taken into account?
Dr. FISH. Yes; that is correct. Even in a district such as ours, on the handicapped, for example.
Mr. FORD. Am I correct that at this point no one, the Office of Education or a combination of any local units, has sufficient information: in their computers so that we can ask the computer to give us a complete and accurate printout of what the impact of the formula would be at any particular level of funding?
Dr. FISH. Not with any degree of reliability. That is my concern. Mr. FORD. There is a good deal of material that would have to be gathered and compiled at the local level and ultimately collected and collated at the national level. Isn't that correct?
Dr. FISH. Even with the existing impact aid districts there are such things as the determination of the guidelines that would tell you where students fit in various categories.
Mr. Bobo was concerned about the Fort Benning complex. That is a very good example of that.
Mr. FORD. Let us stop right there. Customarily, to comply with the existing act, do you do an annual actual school census by having the students bring back a sheet of paper and have the parents answer specific questions that gave you what you needed to know to determine criteria for the eligibility, whether the child was an A child or a B child, an A-out, a B-out and so on?
Never in the past were you concerned with State lines in terms of residence of the child. This law since its inception has always distributed money on the basis of where the child attends school. The residence of the child, if it were off the military base, has not been a relevant factor, has it?
Dr. FISH. No, sir, it has not.
Mr. FORD. If that child were living on a military base, he became relevant only because of his military base without regard to what State he was in because he then became an A child.
Dr. FISH. Right.
Mr. FORD. And whoever was the child of the parent living on a military base, it didn't matter what State the child's parents lived in, if he was attending school in Nebraska and his parents were living across the river in Iowa, the Nebraska school district where he was getting his education got the money.
Isn't that correct?
Dr. FISH. That is correct.
Mr. FORD. That is not the way the formula would work now.
Mr. FORD. It should be observed that the Perkins bill which many of us are supporting does not delay all of the formula changes. It does not interfere with the payment of the money that school districts would receive as a result of an increase in consideration of the public housing for example.
It also makes provisions to go ahead with the plan to give the 11/2 count to the handicapped child of military parents. It tries to delay only those parts of the formula that we have trouble with.
We would assume that during the period of delay the Office of Education will be able to figure out exactly what happened and then this: committee would have an opportunity to decide on that basis whether
the formula should be changed or whether we should allow it to go ahead and become operative.
I might say for the record as one of the conferees when this whole package was worked out around 2 in the morning, I don't think anybody on that conference committee had anything except a notion about what any one part or the total of these changes would do.
The reason for delaying the impact of that provision in the law 1 year beyond the other provisions in the act-or technically 1 year because the act hasn't been in effect for a year-was that we didn't know with any degree of precision what would happen and we wanted to have time for the Office of Education to figure out what would happen when this went into effect and then be able to act responsibly with legislation if it appeared necessary, if in fact we were going to bankrupt some school districts. It was everyone's agreement in that conference that that was not their intent.
It was never the intention of anybody connected with this formula to have it go into effect until we had adequate assurance that we knew the consequences of each change in the formula and that we would agree to delay its going into effect until we could mitigate the defects or eliminate the defects.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman PERKINS. I want to agree with everything the distinguished gentleman has stated.
I have a few letters regarding the bill which I would like to insert in the record at this point, if there is no objection. [Information referred to follows:]
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Hon. CARL D. PERKINS,
Chairman, Committee of Education and Labor,
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
DEAR CONGRESSMAN PERKINS: This letter is written regarding H.R. 5181. I have serious reservations regarding the advisability of placing a $63,000.000 limit on the amount of funds which can be administered under (b) Section 5 (c) of the Act of September 30, 1950.
By our calculations Pennsylvania would be entitled to a minimum of $12,800,000 in impact aid for students who "reside on, or resided with a parent employed on, property which is part of a low rent housing project." For the $63,000,000 figure to provide full funding, Pennsylvania would have to enroll 20.3% of all public housing students in the entire United States. It does not do so. The $63,000,000 figure is unrealistically low. The impact of the imbalance that would result upon Pennsylvania and other states would be severe.
There is yet another issue which must be considered. When the public housing students have been dealt with separately in the past, funds have not been forthcoming. Though eligible for funding since 1970, in actuality no payments have been made because of a lack of appropriations stemming from the separate manner in which the public housing students were classified. By dealing with them separately from other class b students, the measure would be moving in a direction the 1974 Amendments sought to correct. The Senate report on the 1974 Amendments correctly summarized that "this provision [integrating public housing students with class b students] of the committee bill is intended to assure that school districts impacted by these children [public housing] are treated on an equal basis with those enrolling other federally connected children."
The appropriation history of impact aid to public housing students indicates the negative results that occur when the public housing students are dealt with separately from other class b students. With no assurances for funding past
1976, altering public housing students' equal status with other class b students would have the same net effect as eliminating them from impact aid altogether. When introduced on March 19, you indicated that you were forced to introduce the legislation to avoid the budgetary confusion that local educational agencies would be faced with stemming from the HEW studies which you feel will not be forthcoming until May 1. Yet the data is now starting to appear and will be available soon. Besides, impact aid payments usually are calculated later in the fiscal year so the late nature of the HEW studies will not increase confusion. I heartily agree with your intent, but for reasons outlined above, I believe the effect of H.R. 5181 would be to add to the confusion, not help to eliminate it. Sincerely,
JOHN C. PITTENGER.
Hon. CARL D. PERKINS,
MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
Chairman, House Education and Labor Committee, Rayburn Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE PERKINS: Thank you for the time and interest you have demonstrated in the Impact Aid Program (P.L. 874) by introducing H.R. 5181. Because we believe an analysis of the fiscal impact from implementation of the Education Amendments of 1974, P. L. 93-380, is absolutely essential and of much public interest, your introduction of this bill is appreciated.
Over the years since I first met with you to discuss federal aid to education, I have been impressed with your leadership in aggressively supporting attempts to maintain a fair level of federal financial aid to local school districts. It is clearly apparent from the remarks you made in introducing this bill on March 19 that you and other members of the Congress have a much keener insight into the fiscal crisis faced by local school systems than either staff in U.S.O.E or the administration.
We will acquaint our congressional representatives with the importance of your bill. Again, our thanks to you for this positive indication of your willingness to work toward the support of the Impact Aid Program.
HOMER O. ELSEROAD, Superintendent of Schools.
CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
Hon. CARL D. PERKINS,
House of Representatives, Rayburn House Office Building,
DEAR CONGRESSMAN PERKINS: The March 20th issue of "Education Daily" reports that you are proposing a separate $63 million appropriation to fund the public housing category of the impact law.
You are to be applauded for your untiring efforts to help poor urban youth. If legislation is enacted to carry out your proposal, it will certanly help offset the $3 million loss of Title I funds which Cleveland is losing due to the new Title I formula.
We are grateful to you for your continued leadership in education.
Best personal regards.
Very truly yours.
PAUL W. BRIGGS,
Chairman PERKINS. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Goodling.
Mr. FORD. Mr. Goodling?
Mr. GOODLING. Congressman Ford, we are speaking about something I have learned about rather quickly since I have come to Congress. You mentioned the late hours and then not too many people knowing what was in the bill.
We just passed a $25 billion-I am not sure whether it was called "tax rebate" or "tax something”-bill and 15 minutes before we approved it 194 people voted to recommit it to committee. This indicates to me that either they did not understand it or they had reservations about it or something 15 minutes later it was different.
Mr. FORD. Mr. Goodling, I might just mention that what happened on this bill, this is part of H.R. 69, one night the conferees had started at 9 the previous day and conferred on the bill throughout the night until 4 the following morning. There were some little issues like busing and some others that stirred up something more than common passion. So by the time we got to this level we were hardly even talking to each other, let alone hearing what other people were saying.
Mr. GOODLING. I am sure that we have problems with this particular program. Times have changed since it originally began. One of the biggest problems of course happens to be this particular area right around here with the highest income per capita located all around Washington, D.C.
They have very fine homes, a very good tax base on those homes, et cetera, et cetera.
They recover an awful lot of money from this program. There are many people throughout the country that feel this is totally wrong. One of the other problems I have learned down here rather quickly is that we like to keep things as they are and then just add to the top. I am finding that the older you get the more inclined you are to be opposed to change, I suppose, more suspect and more suspicious.
One of the problems of course has also been that the public housing entitlemnt has always been at the very bottom. The Appropriations Committee has never gone through and offered any money in that
So most people will stand to lose with the present bill. I have figures to indicate that there are 11 States for instance-including Congressman Ford's own State and Congressman Goodling's State and Congressman Zeferetti's State and so on-that are going to gain considerably when you think in terms of the public housing entitlement. They are also big States that have a lot of Congressmen too. I might mention.
I just call this to your attention to show you that there are several sides, of course, to the coin.
My question I think would be, do we really need to change the law? Or should we insist that the current law is carried out to the letter and clear up the fear of the unknown?
From both of your testimonies it appeared to me that the fear of the unknown was one of the biggest problems that you were having with the present bill.
Dr. FISH. Yes. I think I have to speak in terms of the stability of school districts. We talk about Montgomery County, Md. The gentleman behind me is from Montgomery County, Ala. There is Phenix City, Ga. I don't believe Portsmouth, N.H., is a rich community. I know Phenix City, Ga., is not..
But I know that Portsmouth loses from a $1,600,000 level under the old law to a $1,185,000 level. It is a loss of $500,000.