Trump’s budget proposal could have local connection to schools, Amtrak

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – President Trump’s more than $1 trillion budget includes cuts to many domestic programs. This would finance a significant increase in the military and allow for a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The $54-billion boost for the military is the largest since President Ronald Reagan, but the budget’s cuts to education that have local leaders concerned.

Students attending one of the 12 after-school programs in the city of Roanoke could be affected. Trump is seeking to cut $1.2 million in grants for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which is a multi-billion program across the country.

Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop said students tend to be more productive with after-school programs and score better on Standards of Learning testing.

Dr. Bishop says it would be tragic to cut the programs and wants to see them stay for students in the city.

“Many students go home and have no one at home for a while. We are able to help teachers at 12 sites that come in and help students with homework. They tutor, and provide academic enrichment. And every work session has some variety so we tried to provide a variety of experience,” said Bishop.

The Trump administration says there is no evidence the programs has been effective. Even though this is a proposal, Bishop said it is not known if the budget calls for a cut to all new after-school programs or the ones already existing.

It doesn’t look like the proposal will impact Amtrak services for Roanoke in the near future. According to Senator John Edwards, Amtrak service is still slated to start in October. The $15 million was already put in place to help complete the new service facility on Williamson Road.

Also, work has already begun on a high platform on Norfolk and Jefferson Street close to the Gainsboro Bridge. Edwards said eliminating federal funding for Amtrak services beyond Washington D.C. and on the East Coast could greatly impact passenger service.

“Because the interstates are becoming so crowded and unsafe on 81 people really want to have Amtrak because they don’t want to drive to Washington D.C. or New York or Boston. So it’s extremely important for our area to have Amtrak. It’s good for tourism and the students at Tech and Radford,” said Edwards.

The Trump administration says the funding cut to Amtrak’s long-distance routes would allow it “to focus on better managing its state-supported and northeast corridor train services.”

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