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Manchin, Capito question DeVos on education budget

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Manchin, Capito question DeVos on education budget
By Alex Thomas, WV MetroNews

WASHINGTON — During more than two hours of testimony Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos answered questions from Senate subcommittee members regarding the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

The administration put forward a $59 billion education budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a $9 billion reduction from the 2017 continuing resolution.

Two senators who asked DeVos about the suggested plan were U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. While both senators addressed different issues, Manchin and Capito made remarks concerning about how budget cuts would affect West Virginia students.

Capito first addressed DeVos about West Virginia State University being removed from the Upward Bound program. The initiative provides projects for high school students who come from lower-income families or those in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree.

According to Capito, the Institute university was cut following an $104 worksheet error.

“Not even their actual application,” Capito said. “$104 on a worksheet has ended a 50-year relationship.”

DeVos testified May 24 to a House appropriations committee on the budget, and said at the time she would consider reviewing Upward Bound grants. The department would use funds from the 2017 Omnibus to review all the applicants.

DeVos said Tuesday applicants were rejected because of formatting problems prior to her taking office. Yet the secretary said while she would like to review West Virginia State University’s application again, it could not be done.

“I don’t accept that you can’t relook at something,” Capito said, picking up a stack of papers. “I’ve got letters here from students that are in that program. Many of them, the students that have no options. They have parents that haven’t gone to college.”

“Several of them are in really desperate family situations where, if it were not for Upward Bound, they would not have the opportunity or the aspirations to further their educations.”

Capito moved on to 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a program which provides academic support during non-school hours for students at high-poverty and low-performing institutions. Under the proposed budget, the centers would be eliminated, saving the department $1.2 billion.

Capito said states with limited budgets, such as West Virginia, cannot provide services to students, leaving 7,000 children without service.

She added with the state’s current revenue problems, the West Virginia Department of Education cannot address this issue successfully.

“Senator Manchin and my state is $500 million in the hole,” she said. “This is not going to be something that we can expand statewide.”

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