Summary: S.778 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (04/23/1987)

(Measure passed Senate, amended, roll call #80 (77-16))

Star Schools Program Assistance Act - Amends the Education for Economic Security Act to add a title establishing a star schools program. Cites the new title as the Star Schools Program Assistance Act.

Empowers the Secretary of Education to make demonstration grants of up to a fiscal year maximum of $20,000,000 per grant to eligible telecommunications partnerships for the development, construction, and acquisition of telecommunications facilities and equipment and for technical assistance.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1988 through 1992, subject to fiscal year limitations.

Mandates that at least 50 percent of funds under this Act for any fiscal year be used for the cost of facilities, equipment, teacher training or retraining, technical assistance, or programming for certain local educational agencies.

Sets forth eligibility criteria to identify eligible telecommunications partnerships, which must be organized on a statewide or multistate regional basis and be either: (1) a public agency or corporation established to provide education-related telecommunications networks to certain educational or health institutions or to industries; or (2) a partnership that will provide a telecommunications network and whose membership includes combinations of certain specified educational entities (especially elementary and secondary schools eligible for funds under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 or such eligible schools operated by the Department of the Interior for Indian children) or public or private organizations experienced with telecommunications.

Authorizes eligible partnerships to submit a grant application: (1) describing the telecommunications facilities, equipment, and technical assistance for which aid is being sought; (2) demonstrating that the services offered will increase the availability of courses of instruction in mathematics, science, and foreign languages; (3) describing teacher training policies to be implemented to ensure the effective use of the relevant facilities; (4) providing assurances that the financial interest of the United States in the telecommunications facilities and equipment will be protected for their useful life; (5) assuring that a significant portion of the facilities, equipment, technical assistance, and programming will be made available within local educational agencies having a high percentage of educationally deprived students; (6) describing how traditionally underserved students will participate in the benefits of such technology; and (7) containing other assurances and information as required by the Secretary.

Directs the Secretary, in approving applications, to assure an equitable geographic distribution of grants and to give priority to certain applicants, including those partnerships that: (1) have the capacity to serve the broadest range of targeted institutions; (2) have substantial academic and teaching capabilities; (3) will serve a multistate area; and (4) demonstrate strength in mathematics, science, and foreign language resources which by distribution through the partnership will offer new educational opportunities, especially to traditionally underserved populations and to areas with limited access to such resources; and (5) will meet the needs of individuals traditionally excluded from careers in mathematics and science because of discrimination, inaccessibility, or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Requires each grantee to report to the Secretary concerning courses and materials to be transmitted by satellite to educational institutions and teacher training centers and to specify the locus and time of such transmissions. Directs the Secretary to: (1) compile and prepare for dissemination a listing and description of the courses and materials submitted by each grantee; and (2) distribute such list to all State educational agencies.

Authorizes the Office of Technology Assessment, upon request, to: (1) conduct a thorough evaluation of the use of the telecommunications system supported by the grants awarded under this Act, and report to the Congress on such evaluation; and (2) study and evaluate the cost of designing, building, and launching a satellite for educational purposes, including an analysis of potential users' ability to repay such costs. Requires a report to the Congress if such study indicates that potential users would be able to repay such costs within ten years.