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SOMERSWORTH, N.H., April 15, 1975. Re: Elementary-Secondary Vocational Education. Hon. CARL PERKINS, Education Subcommittee, Washington, D.C.
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE PERKINS: The Somersworth School Board has voted unanimously to urge passage of HR 5181 as proposed by you. Failure to pass promises cutback in teaching and other positions and diminished quality of education in a year when this community is faced with a parochial school closing along with the bad economy. Appreciate your help in this effort.
JOHN H. POWERS, Superintendent of Schools.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H., April 14, 1975. Hon. CARL PERKINS, Chairman, House Education Committee, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN PERKINS: It is imperative that your bill to postpone until the fall of 1976 the taking effect of the damaging authorization bill passed last summer in regard to impact aid be voted on favorably.
The Portsmouth, New Hampshire school district as well as surrounding school districts will experience financial chaos if the cuts proposed by the U.S.O.E. are realized. Thanks for your help and support.
TIMOTHY MONAHAN, Superintendent of Schools.
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON THE IMPACT AID LAWS
AND TESTIMONY ON H.R. 5181
TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 1975
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ELEMENTARY, SECONDARY AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 9:40 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Carl D. Perkins (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Members present: Representatives Perkins, Lehman, Blouin, Mottl, Hall, Quie, Pressler, and Goodling.
Staff members present: John F. Jennings, subcommittee counsel; Christopher T. Cross, minority senior education specialist.
Chairman PERKINS. A quorum is present.
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome before the subcommittee this morning one of our most distinguished Members in the U.S. Congress, Mr. Sikes from Florida. Mr. Sikes has always supported our education legislation and especially has supported the expansion of the impact aid program which benefits so many school districts because of the defense and military installations in the country that have consumed a lot of taxable lands.
Several questions have arisen concerning the new amendments of Public Law 93–380. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Mr. Sikes here on this occasion. He has with him this morning Mr. Pledger Sullivan, the deputy assistant superintendent from his home county. We will hear these witnesses.
Congressman Sikes, you proceed in any manner you prefer.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT L. F. SIKES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA, ACCOMPANIED BY
First let me express my great commendation for the outstanding and tireless efforts that you personally have made and that your committee has made for better education for America. We have gained greatly in this field under your chairmanship.
I appreciate your interest in allowing me to make this presentation. As you know, I visited with you several weeks ago in the company of the distinguished superintendent of schools of my home county of
Okaloosa in Florida about a subject of particular concern to him and to all of the school authorities of my State and to me. Following that meeting with you, I have ascertained that Governor Reubin Åskew of Florida also is apprehensive of the effect of language contained in the Education Amendments of 1974, Public Law 93–380. I have asked for this time in order to urge that the language in question be stricken from the law.
Section 5 (d)3 of Public Law 81–874, as amended, provides that if a State has in effect a program of State aid—the Florida education finance program established by the 1973 legislature does provides for an equalization program for free public education among the local educational agencies of that State, payments under the act—Public Law 874may be taken into consideration by such State in determining (1) the relative financial resources available to local educational agencies in that State and (2) the relative financial need of such agencies for the provisions of free public education for children served by such agency subject to the provisions in this section.
The above amendment, Mr. Chairman, authorizes the Legislature of the State of Florida to utilize impact funds allocated to each eligible county in determining the amount of State funds to be received for education funding. This could result in the eventual loss of approximately $16,733,911.82 annually in State funds now available to certain counties in impact funds. I believe there are 21 counties in the State of Florida which could be adversely affected by this amendment. As many as eight other States may be similarly affected—I am told it is seven.
It is now proposed in the Florida Legislature that a measure be enacted into law which would count Federal impact funds as a part of total school revenue. This, in simple terms, means that the counties now receiving impact funds would no longer have the full amount of the funds which are specifically appropriated by Congress for their schools. The State does not propose to make up for this deficit to impact area counties. That means the impacted counties would have to endure lower school standards.
The facts of life being what they are, it must be assumed that the State legislators who represent the remaining 44 counties of the State would vote to take this money from the counties which now are receiving it in order to gain more money for their own counties. In simple terms, it looks like a stacked deck unless the language is taken from the Federal law. We simply don't have sources of revenue in the counties to replace that which would be lost to the students and the schools in the counties affected.
The State of Florida, with current provisions for funding public education, does not have a true equalization formula that guarantees an amount of money for every student, regardless of the county that he lives in.
This loss in Federal impact funds would violate the original intent of the concept of impact legislation, which was to guarantee school boards sufficient funds to provide adequate educational programs for dependents of federally connected employees—both military and civilian—who were moved into a county as a result of governmental defense activities, regardless of the financial resources of a county or State.
There are other Federal funds being received by counties in Florida that closely parallel the concept of the impact aid program. These are not currently being considered in my State as local revenue in the State's equalization program. I vigorously contest the Federal Government's position in allowing the use of impact funds as required local effort. If the philosophy of the State is to use Federal funds available to this State for equalization, then there are many other Federal funds and State funds currently received by other counties that should be considered if the equalization philosophy is to be funded in a fair and equitable manner to each student regardless of where he lives.
For example, the Cuban refugee program, Public Law 87–515 provides approximately $11,500,000 for impact Cuban refugee students; Public Law 89-10, Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides $47 million for students of parents in low-income categories; Vocational and Technical Federal Acts of 1963 provides $14,500,000; Neighborhood Youth Corps, Department of Labor Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, title IB, provides for $3,600,000 (Manatee County receives $448,000 in this program compared to zero dollars received by Okaloosa County); and several counties in the State are receiving revenue from oil royalties that are not currently being considered as local required effort in the State's equalization formula.
The total amount received from Federal sources is $113,733,911.82 to the State. It would appear that the isolation of a mere $16,756,676 in impact funds to be used in solving Florida’s revenue problem in funding the equalization program is not only inequitable but an exercise in futility.
The State of Florida's current method of funding public education, which includes an equalization factor, has been in effect for a period of only 2 years. The economic problems in Florida this current year resulted in the State having to prorate revenue to State and local agencies. It would appear that if this trend continues, the use of impact funds to equalize the State revenue would result in a decreasing amount of total dollars available for students in the affected counties.
We have an excellent rapport with the military establishment in the various counties and appreciate very much the economic impact that these defense installations have in each instance in my county. This plus State forest lands has resulted in half of the land not being on the tax rolls and available for taxation. We do feel that we have a commitment to pupils of military personnel, civil service personnel, civilian contractors, as well as all pupils, to provide the very best educational program possible. This would not be possible under the language which I have asked that you delete.
On behalf of the superintendents and school boards of the affected counties, the military contingency, and the people of each county, I want to sincerely ask you to support full funding of both “A” and “B” pupils pursuant to Public Law 874, or at least the present level of funding and to delete the provision that allows impact funds as required local effort for a State equalization program.
Accompanying me this morning is Mr. Pledger Sullivan of the Okaloosa County school system. He is deputy superintendent and a man fully informed on the subject of impact aid which has been very important to the Okaloosa County school system. I believe he is in position, Mr. Chairman, to answer any questions which you may have