Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa today criticized President Trump’s proposed education budget, saying that his plan to eliminate a federal grant program for teacher training and development would hamper efforts to reform the county’s public schools.
Trump, who through property taxes paid $190,000 to the county’s schools and other municipal governments last year, may be putting efforts to improve the schools in peril by proposing the cuts, Avossa said in an interview today with The Palm Beach Post.
“We’re worried,” Avossa said. “We’re worried about cuts to any (federal education) dollars.”
Overall, Trump is proposing to cut the federal education department’s budget by 13.5 percent, or $9.2 billion, including money for teacher training and summer and after-school programs, The Atlantic reported.
Avossa said his primary concern is Trump’s proposal to eliminate a $450 million grant program that distributes money to help struggling public schools better train and recruit teachers.
The program, known as Title II, or the “Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant” program, would be completely eliminated under Trump’s proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Education.
Palm Beach County schools are expected to receive $8.3 million from that grant program next year, with the money used in part to pay the salaries of supervisors and curriculum specialists who help improve teachers’ performance in the classroom.
Though that’s a small portion of the school district’s $2.4 billion annual budget, some of Avossa’s moves to restructure the school district bureaucracy to better support individual schools are financed in part by that money, officials said.
For Palm Beach County in particular, Avossa said, “it’s going to be a pretty big deal.”
According to Education Week, many experts say it is unlikely that Congress, which sets the federal budget, would actually move forward with such a drastic cut to a program that directly affects public schools across the country.
But Avossa said that he is worried that Trump’s proposed education cuts are receiving too little attention amid the debate over other hot political topics.
“I want parents to pay attention,” he said. “I think it’s important that people pay attention.”
Avossa is drafting an email to school district parents and will forward a copy to the county’s congressional delegation. He said he would encourage any parents or community members to share their concerns with their congressional representatives.
“We know that many families benefit from Title II programs and we hope to continue to receive the necessary funding to maintain these programs,” Avossa wrote in a draft of the letter he provided to The Post.
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