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$191 million cut to afterschool proposed in education spending bill

By Erik Peterson

As the nation celebrated National Summer Learning Day yesterday, an additional step in the FY2018 appropriations process continued. The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee took up their FY2018 education spending bill. The bill sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and labor programs—including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides federal funds leveraged by local school-community partnerships to provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

The House LHHS FY2018 spending bill cuts federal education spending by at least $2 billion ($4 billion if one counts recessions), rolling back necessary supports to children and working families due to a spending allocation that was $5 billion less than FY2017. An updated table shows how the proposed cut will be felt in all 50 states.

The bill passed the Subcommittee on a straight party line as expected. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the bill next week. The Senate Appropriations Committee likely will not tackle their own version of the bill until later this summer or early fall.

Proposal cuts afterschool by $191 million

With regard to key federal efforts that support afterschool and summer learning programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was funded at $1 billion—a cut of $191 million below the current FY2017 level of $1.191 billion. The proposed level is below the level authorized in last year’s ESSA bill ($1.1 billion). If the House bill were to become law, approximately 191,000 children would lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year.

While the bill does not eliminate the Community Learning Centers program as proposed in the President’s FY2018 budget, the $191 million cut to federal afterschool and summer learning supports would be devastating to families and communities in all 50 states.

In addition to Community Learning Centers, funding levels for a number of other programs that support afterschool were included in the bill:

  • Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies: $15.46 billion, level with FY2017 funding. Title I provides basic and flexible funding to low-income school districts to improve student outcomes. Schools are able to spend Title I funds on afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • Title IV Full Service Community Schools: $10 million, level with FY2017. This funding through the Department of Education helps support community school development and expansion at the local level.  
  • Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants: $500 million is proposed for school districts established under ESSA to support activities that provide students with a well-rounded education, ensure safe and supportive learning environments, and use technology to improve instruction. Allowable uses for the grant include support for afterschool STEM. This level is significantly lower than the authorized level of $1.65 billion but represents a proposed increase to the FY2017 level of $400 million.
  • TRIO and GEAR UP: $1.01 billion and $350 million respectively. These programs help first-generation college students prepare for, enter, and complete college, and are increased by $60 million for TRIO and $10 million for GEAR UP.
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $2.860 billion, an increase of $5 million above FY2017. The Afterschool Alliance supports a significant increase in CCDBG funding to help implement the CCDBG Reauthorization Act of 2014. In addition to supporting child care for children ages birth through five, the CCDBG funds afterschool programs for just under one million school age children.
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program: Eliminates all $101 million for this evidence-based program based in the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service: $1 billion, level with FY2017. CNCS supports AmeriCorps and VISTA that are a key asset for hundreds of afterschool programs.

A big step in the wrong direction

According to America After 3PM data, about 10 million low-income students would participate in afterschool and summer learning programs if cost and access were not barriers to them and their families. Decreasing funding for Community Learning Centers and other supports for afterschool and summer learning could negatively impact more than 11,000 communities nationwide that rely on Community Learning Centers funding to keep young people safe, support working parents, and provide engaging learning experiences for children and teens. 

Take action: Send a message to your representatives

While it is likely the bill that emerges from the markup on party lines will include these changes, this is just the first step in the appropriations process. The full House and Senate could take up their LHHS bills later this year, or a continuing resolution or omnibus-spending bill could emerge in the coming months.

Reach out to your members of Congress today in support of modest increases to funding for afterschool and summer learning programs, and affirm that America's kids don't deserve a funding cut.