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Congress marks the beginning of a new period in which the Federal Government has adopted a unified policy of financial assistance to local educational agencies overburdened by activities of the Federal Government. These laws provide Federal assistance for the maintenance and operation of schools, and for the construction of necessary school housing in federally affected areas. An inventory of existing school facilities and a survey of need for additional school facilities are also provided.
Maintenance and operation.--Public Law 874, approved September 30, 1950, authorized the Commissioner of Education to make contributions toward operating costs of schools overburdened with increased attendance as the result of Federal activities and deprived of local revenue because of the tax-exempt status of Federal properties. In order to qualify for financial assistance under this law the school districts must apply to the Commissioner of Education. Applications are submitted through the respective State departments of education where the advice and comment of State education officials may be obtained and, where the administration of the Federal program of assistance can be coordinated insofar as possible with State school programs.
The Act requires that a financial burden shall have been imposed by Federal activities, sets forth eligibility requirements for assistance, and defines the categories in which children residing in or attending schools in federally affected districts shall be grouped. It also stipulates the minimum number and the percent of children in each of the categories that constitute eligibility for entitlement.
A local contribution rate is determined for each applicant district. This rate is important in the allocation procedure since the Federal grants are associated with the local contribution toward current operating expenditures. In determining the rates, both the State and local educational agencies are consulted. A choice is given to the applicants to follow one of two procedures: If the applicant and the State educational agency agree that the average of all school districts in the State in the same legal classification as the applicant is sufficiently comparable to the applicant in legal authority, grade levels served, attendance, taxing authority, and fiscal resources, to serve as a basis for determining the fiscal requirements of the applicant, it is not necessary to submit data concerning individual comparable districts. Where the average of all school districts of the same legal classification is not sufficiently similar, the applicant and the State department of education are required to select five comparable districts and to submit fiscal and other data concerning such districts. Average local contribution rates for the 1950-51 school year were less than $100 in 15 states, and above $200 per pupil in 2 States.
For the school year ended June 30, 1951, the sum of $29,080,788 was made available for the purposes of this Act by direct appropriation and by transfers from other departments and agencies. This amount included a supplemental appropriation of $5,700,000 approved by Congress in November 1951. The transfer funds were received in accordance with the terms of the Act which provided that the Commissioner of Education was given the responsibility for administering the program and that the Act should supersede legislation that had previously authorized other Federal agencies to expend funds for similar services.
Under the terms of the Act, actual entitlements for the 1950-51 school year totaled $30,181,666.23 and exceeded the funds available for the program by $1,100,878.23. However, the Act stipulates that payments shall be prorated among all eligible districts when funds are not sufficient to pay the total of the entitlements. For the 1950-51 school year, only 96 percent of entitlements was paid to the school districts. Entitlements for the 1,183 eligible federally affected school districts are listed in column 3 of table 9. Amounts paid on the program for the 1950-51 school year are included in column 7 of the summary table 3.
School construction—In recognition of the needs for additional classrooms and for the replacement of obsolete school facilities throughout the Nation, Congress enacted Public Law 815 (81st Cong.) on September 23, 1950, and appropriated funds to assist with the school housing problems.
Title I of this Act was designated, Surveys and State Plans for School Construction. It authorized the appropriation of $3,000,000 to assist the States in surveying the need for construction of additional facilities, to develop State plans for school construction programs, and to study the State and local financial resources that might be available to meet school facilities requirements. Further details concerning the operations under Title I are presented on pages 32 and 33.
Title II of Public Law 815, authorized the Commissioner of Education to provide financial assistance for the construction of school buildings in federally affected areas. Payments are authorized to be made to local educational agencies as specified in the Act where children live on Federal property, where parents are employed on Federal property, or where increased school attendance results from activities of the United States carried on either directly or through a contractor. The provisions of the Act are specific with respect to the minimum number and the percent of children in school in order to establish eligibility and the amount of Federal assistance to which the local school district is entitled.
Table 9.-NUMBER OF ELIGIBLE DISTRICTS AND ENTITLEMENTS ALLOTTED
FOR ASSISTANCE IN THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF SCHOOLS IN FEDERALLY AFFECTED AREAS, FOR THE 1950-51 SCHOOL YEAR
1 Only 96 percent was paid because funds available were insufficient to pay in full. : Includes one section 6 allotment for which the full $75,000 was paid.
The amount of construction assistance to which a school district is entitled is determined by the number of eligible children in average daily attendance multiplied by a percent of the average cost per pupil of constructing complete school facilities within the State. For example, 95 percent of the average cost per pupil of constructing complete school facilities is allotted if the children live on Federal property and their parents are employed on Federal property, 70 percent if the children live on Federal property or if the parents are employed on Federal property, and 45 percent if the children are in the area because of Federal activity.
When the attendance increase is sufficient to entitle a local educational agency to receive payment under the Act, but is determined to be of temporary duration only, the Commissioner is required to provide such temporary facilities as are necessary to take care of the attendance or provide funds to make temporary facilities available.
Where State laws preclude the extension of the State's educational system to children living on Federal property or where it has been determined that no local district is able to provide free public education for such children, the Commissioner of Education
will make arrangements for constructing or otherwise providing school facilities. No construction in this category is approved by the Office of Education without supporting recommendations from the State and local educational agencies.
Congress appropriated the sum of $74,500,000 and provided for contract authorization for an additional $25,000,000 for Public Law 815 during the 1950–51 school year. Of the cash appropriation, however, $3,000,000 was made available for Title I, the School Facilities Survey. The remaining portion of the appropriation, $71,500,000 was for Title II. Additional funds amounting to about $150,000 either have been transferred or are expected to be transferred to the Office of Education from other Federal agencies or departments, which funds had been appropriated for the construction of school facilities. Table 10 shows the amounts reserved for approved projects, as well as the payments State by State for the 1950-51 school year under Public Law 815, Title II.
An amount equal to 10 percent of the cost of the project is certified by the Commissioner of Education to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment to the school district upon approval of a construction project. Following approval of final plans and specifications, payment of the remainder of the Federal share is made in installments as follows: 30 percent as soon as the construction contract has been entered into and acceptable bonds furnished; 40 percent when the project is approximately half completed; and 20 percent, or the balance of the estimated Federal share, after completion of the project. Certifications pertaining to the completion of various stages of work are received from the Commissioner of Community Facilities Service.
The Act requires that, when the funds available for any fiscal year are not sufficient to pay in full the entitlements which all local educational agencies would otherwise receive, regulations shall be issued to prescribe the order in which certification of payments will be made. The order so prescribed is required to be based upon relative urgency of need. The entitlements of all eligible school districts aggregated $286,965,712. It was evident that the available funds would not be sufficient to pay in full the entitlements of all the eligible districts under Section 202 of the Act. Regulations therefore were issued in accordance with the Act which required the application of a priority system and provided for allotments to school districts having the greatest relative urgency of need. The districts which were highest on the priority list received funds first.
Table 10.-NUMBER OF PROJECTS, FEDERAL FUNDS RESERVED, AND
AMOUNTS PAID THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 1951, FOR ASSISTANCE IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF SCHOOL FACILITIES IN FEDERALLY AFFECTED AREAS
168, 889. 20 3,199, 094.45 340, 952.50
Virginia Washington. West Virginia Wisconsin WyomingAlaska. Puerto Rico.