« PreviousContinue »
Now, then, section 308, suggested administrative changes: The reduction from 70 percent to 50 percent of the cost of constructing school facilities for children whose parents work on Federal property but who live in privately owned homes, section 305 (a) (2) of 246, and the elimination of the directly connected children, section 305 (a) (3), Public Law 246, have both served to reduce the Federal responsibility and increase the local responsibility for the increase in pupil load. Everybody recognized when 246 was enacted that it was a much tighter bill than 815 had been. Congress recognized this. Frankly, the schoolmen testified against it, but nevertheless Congress went along and enacted it, but they did something along with that, they included a new section 308, which is designed to provide additional payments in the most heavily impacted school districts. This section provides that—
Not to exceed 10 per centum of the amount so appropriated for any fiscal year (exclusive of any sums appropriated for administration) may be used by the Commissioner, under regulations prescribed by him, to make grants to local educational agencies where (1) the application of such agencies would be approved under this title but for the agencies' inability, unless aided by such grants, to finance the non-Federal share of the cost of the projects set forth in their applications-.
Now, the reason I am mentioning this is not because the present regulation proposed by the Commissioner eliminates the Midwest City School as such, but because it eliminates a school that has had the condition thrust upon it as pictured heretofore. I don't care what the name of the school is.
It is believed that additional payments under this section should be based on the district's ability to meet its share of the construction cost. Its ability to meet its share will be in adverse proportion to its total increased pupil responsibility, and its need for such additional payments will be in direct proportion to its total increased pupil responsibility. This increased pupil responsibility should include both its share for the federally connected pupils and the total for the nonfederally connected pupil increase.
Under authority of this section the Commissioner of Education has ruled that an applicant in order to qualify for grants under section 308 will be required to show a federally connected membership for which it is eligible under section 305 of at least 20 percent of the estimated membership on June 30, 1954. It is pointed out that this requirement does not equitably measure the school district's ability to meet the non-Federal share of a project to house the section 305 children. For instance, to house a section 305 (a) (1) child-that is those who live on and work on federally connected projects—the local district must provide 5 percent of the cost. Thus, it can be seen that the obligation on the school district and the likelihood that it cannot meet its share of the need with local funds is 10 times as great for section 305 (a) (2) children as it is for section 305 (a) (1) children. To make a straight percentage requirement without considering the local responsibility for the different categories of pupils certainly does not measure the ability of the district to meet its responsibility. A more accurate measurement of the district's ability to meet its share of the cost may be determined by adding its responsibility to the various categories of federally connected pupils and the nonFederal pupils as follows:
LOCAL DISTRICT RESPONSIBILITY
Five percent of the section 305 (a) (1) increase in membership; Fifty percent of the section 305 (a) (2) increase in membership; Fifty-five percent of the section 305 (a) (3) increase in membership; One hundred percent of the non-Federal increase in membership. In other words, the district must provide first 5 percent for 1 type of children, 50 for another, 55 for another, and 100 percent for nonFederal children. That added together in terms of pupil cost will determine what the district's responsibility is, and then a judgment can be made whether it can meet it or whether it can't. Certainly a straight percentage, such as 20 percent on all children, has no relationship, in my judgment, at all to whether a district should qualify for this additional non-Federal share or not.
No change in the legislation is needed to correct this procedure but language in the report of this committee should point out a better plan than that presently proposed by the Commissioner of Education if this section is to meet the need for which it was intended.
I might say I have discussed this with the United States Office of Education in the administration of its laws, but I haven't prevailed at the present time. I wanted to get it on record so it may be looked at by those interested in it.
A serious inequity in the operation of Public Law 246 has resulted from the disposition of Federal public housing. There, again, I have no interest in this particular point, but there are many schools throughout the Nation which do have.
Public Law 246 provides that a school district shall be eligible for payment only on the increased pupils eligible under the different sections since July 1, 1952, which would seem to be equitable, but in actual practice does not prove to be. For instance-I might mention here again I am talking in schoolman's language this morning and not administrator's language-a school district may have had 500 children from families living in Federal public housing as of June 30, 1952, and for which it qualified for payment under section 202 of Public Law 815. Since that time this housing has been disposed of to a local housing authority or private owners which disqualifies these children from this category.
I believe the Congress has instructed those people in charge of all federally owned housing to dispose of it in a certain length of time.
During this same period of time the district has had Wherry housing constructed within its boundaries housing 500 new children, which represents an increase for which it should be eligible for payment under the corresponding section 305 (a) (1) of Public Law 246.
I went with a superintendent in Dayton, Ohio, to talk to the housing people, because they have a number of Federal housing units in the district for which they have been qualifying the children under this law. It is going to be sold. They have also had 1,500 Wherry housing units built in the district. Children will move out of one into the other. Other people will move into the housing projects. Some will stay there, but the loss of the 500 children in the total now and keeping them in the total completely wipes out the 500 increase.
This inequity should be corrected by providing that the children in any category who become ineligible after July 1, 1952, should also be considered ineligible on that date in determining the difference or
increase. In other words, if you are going to take them out on the minuend of a subtraction problem, take them out of the subtrahend, and you will get an exact answer of this increase.
This can also be corrected by direction to the Commissioner in the committee report.
Section 202 (c) of Public Law 815 served a distinct purpose in meeting the Federal responsibility in federally impacted areas, but was rendered virtually inoperative in the corresponding section 305 (a) (3) of Public Law 246. This resulted in changing the phraseology, quoting from each of the laws, "whose attendance results from activities of the United States," to "whose membership results directly from activities of the United States."
Now the change in the word attendance to membership wasn't important, but when they inserted the word "directly" it became tremendously important, because there is an indirect effect upon school districts.
And the further requirement that the President find
(A) that a new defense plant or installation has been or is to be provided therein, or an existing defense plant or installation therein has been or is to be reactivated or its operation substantially expanded, and (b) that substantial in-migration of defense workers or military personnel is required to carry out activities at each plant or installation.
Unless those things are defined a little bit clearer in the congressional intent, I feel that a great many schools will not get the advantages that were intended.
In those districts which are most heavily affected by Federal activity, there is a problem created by the Federal activity which is not as direct as either living on Federal property or working on Federal property. Nevertheless, it results from the Federal activity, as the following examples indicate:
1. The normal attrition at Tinker Field in the Midwest City School District is approximately 425 employees per month. As I said, in using Tinker Field as an example, the employment has remained rather stationary for the last 3 or 4 years. It is true they have about 425 employees change every month. That is the normal attrition, and in that sense you would need a continued in-migration of people to take care of this attrition, but that has never been recognized by the United States Office of Education as being qualifying under this section.
People leaving the employment of the Federal Government many times do not move from the community but leave their families here and seek employment elsewhere. That doesn't relieve the school of the responsibility. They wouldn't have been there had they not come to work for the Federal Government. Yet we can't count them after the parent quits work on the Federal installation. Because of the potential employees required to fill these vacancies, many people move to Midwest City months before they are employed and their availability is a distinct advantage in maintaining the employment rolls at the Federal installation.
2. Traffic control, police protection, public school teachers-25 to 30 policemen to take care of all that traffic that comes in every day— are increased to meet the service need of those persons employed on the Federal property. Now, all they furnish is their home they live in, the same as the man who works at Tinker Field.
3. Military families move to an area near a military establishment when the father is transferred overseas or to some outpost without family facilities even though the father was not stationed at the particular installation at the time of being transferred. Sometimes the families are there and the parent goes off, or the parent wasn't stationed there, but the family finally ends up there. We have illustrations of that kind in 75 pupils in that category that have been disallowed. Now, who do they do this? This condition results from a number of reasons such as hospital care for the family, commissary and PX facilities, military social environment, and family contacts and other services rendered by the military. It is just as natural as night following day, and yet we can't count the children.
Evidence of this type of an impact is substantiated by the actual increase of pupils at the Midwest City schools since the establishment of the Federal installation here early in 1942. At that time there was an average daily attendance of 225 pupils in the strictly rural area which now comprises the Midwest City School District. At the present time, 11 years later, there is an average daily attendance of 7,801 pupils, while only 4,139 of them have parents employed on Federal property. This leaves an increase over the original attendance of 3,436 pupils or 1,527 percent resulting from other causes either directly or indirectly connected with the installation.
I would like to point out in Oklahoma the schools have increased about 3 percent in average daily attendance, statewise, and here is a school that has had, unless you consider the point I am talking about. right now, has had a 1,500 percent increase in non-Federal children It just wouldn't have happened.
The criteria for a Presidential finding in this section is not a true indication that an increase in pupils results from the Federal activity within the community as shown by the attendance figures of the Midwest City school system since June 30, 1952. There has been no new installation established in the district nor have the employment rolls for the existing installation increased materially since that time. Yet the pupils from parents employed on this installation have increased from 2,992 to 4,139, or 38 percent in 2 years. All other pupils increased from 2,119 to 3,661 or 73 percent increase. Surely we would not have expected such an increase from any other reason than that the Federal installation is located in the school district.
Now, I frankly admit that doesn't often happen only in the schools where the installation is located. When a commuter moves from another district to the Midwest City School District, he takes his children out from the other school district. Unless the law is extended that school district has the building for him and we don't have one. We are the one school in which the installation is located.
The two changes referred to result in the elimination of the payment of any Federal funds for any of the 73 percent increase in pupil load. School districts simply cannot adjust their local finances to meet this unusual need. In considering the justification of assistance to these pupils, it must be remembered that under the other restrictions of both Public Law 815 and 246 no applicant is eligible for Federal funds until it has made the maximum local effort and yet is unable to meet the facility need for these children. This restriction is ample protection to the Federal Government without the two objectionable changes referred to.
As I have talked with Congressmen and Senators over the last 5, 6 or 7 years, I have always run into many who felt like the installations did a lot of good in the community, and we couldn't argue that they didn't, and therefore this was a fact that should be considered as a factor, and yet this very section that I am talking about was the only section in the bill that takes this into consideration, and it was thrown I mean it was virtually eliminated because it was changed. It is the need section in the bill. In the other sections the school gets the money whether they need it or not. This is the need section in the bill.
Now, then I have another point which I want to bring up because I think it is worthy of consideration.
One of the greatest inequities experienced by applicants during the operation of Public Law 815 resulted from the elimination of those entitlements against which no construction project application was filed prior to June 30, 1952. Public Law 246 validated the entitlements against which a construction or reimbursement application had been filed which remained at the expiration of Public Law 815 but limited the amount not to exceed a total of $55 million or 70 percent of any single entitlement. At the same time it repudiated all other entitlements.
There, again, Oklahoma got 99.2 percent of its entitlement, and my school district got 100 percent of its entitlement, so I am talking now strictly about the equity of the schools throughout the country.
The fact that construction applications were not filed against the entitlements results from a number of reasons which were no fault of the applicant: Maybe a party to the fault was the applicant, but maybe that applicant or the superintendent who was at fault then is not there now, but the children are the ones that have been harmed. 1. Meager appropriations to meet the payment of entitlements resulted in the priority system which was very discouraging to any but high priority applicants.
2. Lack of understanding as between the applicants and the United States Office of Education on procedures and policies in the administration of Public Law 815 (this is not a criticism but a statement of fact). When 815 went into effect it was so confusing and new and different to the schoolmen, hundreds of schoolmen had heard nothing of it until that time, that they didn't really catch onto what it was doing until it was too late, and this isn't any indictment on them either. Certainly, I have been in the game all of these 10 or 11 years, and I kept up with it, and so did a number of other school superintendents, but that wasn't the case throughout the Nation.
3. The fact that the largest appropriation to pay entitlements followed the expiration date for the filing of construction applications. When the June 30, 1952, appropriation lacked, I believe, over 275 million of meeting the need, it is kind of understandable, here is a school out here with a priority of 10 or priority of 20 that hadn't gone to the trouble to make the plans to get a project application in.
Because of these conditions during the early stages of the administration of Public Law 815 school districts with low priorities were given little hope of receiving any funds from their entitlements. This condition delayed planning the construction program of many of these districts until some hope might be held of receiving Federal assistance for construction in order that current planning might