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BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF New York,
Brooklyn, N.Y., May 13, 1965. Hon. WAYNE MORSE, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR MORSE: May I indicate the support of the New York City school system for the measure you recently introduced, S. 289, which would provide financial assistance in the construction and operation of public schools in areas affected by major disasters.
We believe this is a forward step and a very great benefit to public school systems throughout the country. We would urge the passage of this bill. Sincerely,
BERNARD E. DONOVAN, Acting Superintendent of Schools.
ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL SCHOOL,
Galveston, Tex., June 3, 1965. Senator WAYNE MORSE, Senate of the United States, Bashington, D.C.
DEAR SIR: Regarding Senate bill S. 289, which will provide aid to public schools in times of natural disaster, we have found that in the Hurricane Carla our need for immediate aid was as great if not greater than that of any public school. The entire school building was destroyed by a tornado which followed the hurricane. During the school year 1962-63 the children of St. Mary's school were forced to take up classes in temporary quarters until a new school could be built. Surely some type of aid could be provided for private as well as public sehools at a time such as this. Please give this problem careful consideration as you present this bill to the Senate. Sincerely,
Sr. GEORGE MARIE, O.P., Principal.
NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION,
Washington, D.C., May 17, 1965. Hon. WAYNE MORSE, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR MORSE: I am enclosing herewith a statement by Dr. Lois Edinger on behalf of the National Education Association in support of S. 289.
You can be assured of our full support for this program. Please feel free to call upon us. Sincerely,
John M. LUMLEY,
Director, Division of Federal Relations. PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. Lors EDINGER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION
ASSOCIATION The National Education Association enthusiastically supports S. 289 and urges its immediate enactment. The introduction of this proposal by the distinguished chairman and members of this subcommittee and others is further evidence of the dedicated and meticulous efforts of these Senators in support of public schools.
Following the tragic 1964 earthquake in Alaska, the resultant tidal wave damage to other coastal areas, and the severe 1964 floods in Montana, Senator Morse and others introduced S. 2725 in the 88th Congress. At the 1964 convention of the National Education Association, the delegates unanimously adopted the following resolution:
"24-DISASTER AID TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS “The recent earthquake in Alaska not only destroyed public school buildings in many districts but also destroyed a considerable share of the tax base upon which public education in Alaska depends for finance. To alleviate the effects of such calamities, the National Education Association urges the enactment of Federal legislation to provide supplementary financial assistance to States, commonwealths, and local school districts to enable them to maintain public education in the event of major disaster.”
The two 1964 disasters herein noted caused considerable dislocation of the public school tax base in the areas affected. Fortunately, the President and the Congress moved swiftly to provide some effective relief in both these situations. However, had either catastrophe occurred during a period in which Congress was. not in session, the interruption of school services would have been even more of a major problem.
S. 289, in proposing to amend Public Law 81-815 and Public Law 81-874 to provide financial assistance in the construction and operation of public elementary and secondary schools in areas affected by a major disaster, is a wise measure, and long overdue. At this present time the spring rampages of the Mississippi and its tributaries are causing inestimable damage to schools in the Midwestern States, again underscoring the need for the enactment of S. 289.
Under Public Law 875, the disaster relief act, it has been reasonably possible, in time, to provide for the reconstruction of school physical plant facilities in recent years. However, because of the dependence of public schools for the major proportions of maintenance and operation funds on the local property tax base, which is often totally destroyed, the construction of facilities is not alone the problem. The scope of the Alaska earthquake-and the 1965 floods-clearly indicates that, without the kind of support envisioned in S. 289, the schools in the States affected, whether or not the are directly in the disaster area, will find their operating funds drastically affected.
For example, if the local tax bases of several communities in a given State are destroyed, unless there is aid as provided in S. 289, the State aid formula for the entire State is seriously affected, since the damaged schools will siphon off a larger proportion of State aid than usual—because of the loss of the local tax supportthus creating a problem for all schools in the State by requiring a lowering of school support throughout the entire State.
The proposal in S. 289, of providing through existing laws the machinery to act swiftly, in times of disaster, to restore and preserve the public schools is indeed ingenious. It permits the school officials to deal with the proper Federal agency, the U.S. Office of Education, which already has the skilled personnel to handle the situation with dispatch and the maximum of sound economy.
We urge the enactment of S. 289 and pledge whatever assistance the National Education Association can give in support of this vital legislation.
SUPERINTENDENT OF Public Schools,
Detroit, Mich., May 7, 1965. Hon. WAYNE MORSE, Chairman, Subcommittee on Education, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR MORSE: I have reviewed the provisions of Senate bill 289 providing financial assistance in the construction and operation of public elementary and secondary schools in areas affected by a major disaster. The legislation is directed at an area of concern of many school administrators throughout the country, since the natural and unnatural disasters that occur from time to time often present a situation that has no relief at a local or State level of government.
I would note that the funds would be made available upon the determination of the Commissioner, thus providing immediate relief to school districts affected. The experience that the Office of Education has had in the area of school construction under Public Law 815 and Public Law 874 since 1951 would enable the Commissioner to make the necessary allocations on a realistic basis in terms of cost and need. The 4-year period of adjustment provided under the act would appear to be reasonable. However, the time limits of adjusting to major disasters are difficult to determine.
The qualifying provisions provided under the act are broad enough to limit the application of the bill to the intent of the act without providing administrative obstacles that are so often difficult to comply with in periods of emergency.
The use of Public Law 815 and Public Law 874 funds from the current appropriation certainly provides a source of funds that is readily available. However, the provisions providing for the replacement of the appropriations should be of a higher order, with definite assurance that the basic programs would not be limited in any way.
While I have confined my remarks to the single-purpose provisions of Senate bill 29, I would add that other amendments suggested to Public Law 815 as sipplementary construction funds to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 are of much concern to many school districts of the Nation. Should ihre amendments appear in bill form, I would appreciate having copies of them as soon as possible.
My I say in closing that I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this proposed legislation, and I would like you to know that I have always enjoyed appearing before this committee to discuss matters of educational concern. Sincerely,
S. M. BROWNELL.
The School COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF Boston,
May 3, 1965.
DEAR SENATOR: I wish to be recorded in favor of S. 289.
WILLIAM G. TOBIN,
Los ANGELES, CALIF., May 11, 1965. Selator WAYNE Vorse, Chairman, Subcommittee on Education, Stute Office Ruilding, Washington, D.C.
We have recently reviewed S. 289 regarding financial assistance for school construction and current school expenditure in major disaster areas.
The Los Angeles city schools as well as other school systems in this area experienced major disaster in an earthquake in March 1933. This disaster provides a case history of considerable significance. We had 676 masonry buildings dejared unsafe after the quake. These buildings have been repaired and replaced over the years as quiekly as finances permitted. As an example of local effort, w citizens have approved bond issues totaling $702 million since 1953. However, to limited local financial resources coupled with a growth in student enrollment ví approximately 30.000 additional students each year have made it impossible :0r-place all of these buildings as rapidly as we should. A large part of the funds Etich we should use to construct additional facilities to house our increased student enrollment will have to be used to repair or replace the remaining pre183 masonry buildings. If we could use only the amount of funds allocated for some of these buildings from our last bond issue we could put on regular sessions. Over 27,740 elementary pupils presently on double or half-day sessions. We Fond still have more than enough money left to eliminate the more than 10,000 ilali-day sessions expected next year on the high school level. Catastrophes such as these place impossible burdens for school construction on the local community. Such burdens cannot be met, except with the passage of many years, from State and local resources. Many times the local tax base itself is seriously damaged by the disaster. Inadequate educational housing and educational programs are the inevitable result of these major disasters.
School reconsiruction financed by S. 289 would be of great assistance to the school districts struck by disaster. I support this bill and urge its early passage. Sincerely,
Jack P. CROWTHER,
Los Angeles City Schools. Senator RANDOLPH. The hearing is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 11:27 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.)