Boehner, Jindal Express Disappointment Over Hurricane Education Relief Vote; Committee to Vote Tomorrow on Alternative Proposal
October 27, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) today expressed disappointment after the Committee narrowly defeated a proposal, the Family Education Reimbursement Act, which would have provided education reimbursement to schools enrolling students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Committee is scheduled to reconvene tomorrow, October 28, at 10:00 a.m. to vote on an alternative proposal to provide education relief to students and schools impacted by the hurricanes.
"It's disappointing that our proposal, which I believe offered the most efficient and effective form of education aid to families and children impacted by this tragedy, was unsuccessful," said Boehner, noting that the Family Education Reimbursement Act was strongly supported by members of Congress in impacted states like Louisiana and Texas. "This proposal represented a significant departure from the status quo, and I strongly believe that parents and children would have benefited most directly from an approach that focused on their individual needs."
"It's unfortunate that even in a time of national emergency, the education establishment refuses to consider new ideas to meet the needs of students, families, and individual schools affected by these unprecedented natural disasters," said Boehner. "I remain committed to providing assistance to all schools - whether public, private, or charter - that have enrolled displaced children as a result of the recent hurricanes."
The Committee will consider an alternative proposal that would allow public, private, and charter schools to apply to the Secretary of Education to receive reimbursement for educational expenses on behalf of displaced students. Preschool programs serving four and five year olds displaced by the hurricanes would be able to apply through the Department of Health and Human Services to receive reimbursement.
"Our foremost goal is to provide educational relief to the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The children of the Gulf Coast region and their families need assistance now, whether they find themselves attending public, private, or charter schools. I am disappointed that some were unwilling to accept a relief effort that would have focused on the needs of individuals, but I am hopeful that we can reach a compromise that will provide some certainty for the anxious students and their parents, who have been through so much already," said Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), who introduced the reimbursement proposal with Boehner last week.
Consistent with the Family Education Reimbursement Act, the education relief proposal scheduled for consideration tomorrow would allow for a per pupil funding allocation of up to $6,700, with additional resources available on behalf of students with disabilities. Funds would be provided quarterly based on the number of weeks each child is enrolled, schools would take on sole responsibility in applying for reimbursement funds, and alternate safeguards would ensure funds are effectively targeted on behalf of individual students. Funds would continue to be provided only for the current school year, and unused funds would be returned to the Treasury to be used to reduce the deficit.