One of the reasons I started this blog was to force myself to become educated about the US education system, and as a part of that I have found myself trying to read and understand some of the laws that surround education. Between No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top there have been many changes over the past decade, and to be honest I am not 100% sure that parents understand what it all means. There are so many acronyms and statistics to get through to understand the system when all we really want to know is “Can we trust this school district to provide the best possible education for my child?”
I have voiced my concerns that Salem has perhaps been providing some Title 1 funds to schools that may not meet the requirements for Title 1 therefore I decided to start with Title 1. Salem is described as a Title 1 School District and each elementary school is described as a Title 1 (SW) which means the school has a designated “school wide” program to work specifically with students who are from low income families and who require extra help to meet the state standards. To try to decipher all of this I went to the source and here is the actual description from The Department of Education (ED.gov):
“Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Federal funds are currently allocated through four statutory formulas that are based primarily on census
1. Basic Grants provide funds to LEAs in which the number of children counted in the formula is at least 10 and exceeds 2 percent of an LEA’s school-age population.
2. Concentration Grants flow to LEAs where the number of formula children exceeds 6,500 or 15 percent of the total school-age population.
3. Targeted Grants are based on the same data used for Basic and Concentration Grants except that the data are weighted so that LEAs with higher numbers or higher percentages of children from low-income families receive more funds. Targeted Grants flow to LEAs where the number of schoolchildren counted in the formula (without application of the formula weights) is at least 10 and at least 5 percent of the LEA’s school-age population.
4. Education Finance Incentive Grants (EFIG) distribute funds to states based on factors that measure:
a. a state’s effort to provide financial support for education compared to its relative wealth as measured by its per capita income; and
b. the degree to which education expenditures among LEAs within the state are equalized.
Once a state’s EFIG allocation is determined, funds are allocated (using a weighted count formula that is similar to Targeted Grants) to LEAs in which the number of children from low-income families is at least 10 and at least 5 percent of the LEA’s school-age population. LEAs target the Title I funds they receive to schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. Unless a participating school is operating a schoolwide program, the school must focus Title I services on children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet state academic standards. Schools in which children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment are eligible to use Title I funds for schoolwide programs that serve all children in the school. LEAs also must use Title I funds to provide academic enrichment services to eligible children enrolled in private schools.
LEAs target the Title I funds they receive to public schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. Unless a participating school is operating a schoolwide program, the school must focus Title I services on children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet State academic standards. Schools enrolling at least 40 percent of children from low-income families are eligible to use Title I funds for schoolwide programs designed to upgrade their entire educational programs to improve achievement for all students, particularly the lowest-achieving students.”
Title I is designed to help students served by the program to achieve proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards. Title I schools with percentages of students from low-income families of at least 40 percent may use Title I funds, along with other Federal, State, and local funds, to operate a “schoolwide program” to upgrade the instructional program for the whole school. Title I schools with less than the 40 percent schoolwide threshold or that choose not to operate a schoolwide program offer a “targeted assistance program” in which the school identifies students who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State’s challenging academic achievement standards. Targeted assistance schools design, in consultation with parents, staff, and district staff, an instructional program to meet the needs of those students. Both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs must use instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities.”
Confused much? I know I am. So I went to the MA DESE page and found their nice, detailed description of the Title 1 school wide programs.
So how much money does Title 1 provide to SPS?
In 2010 and 2011 Salem received the following in Title 1 funding:
- District Year Title 1 Allocation *: $1,472,905
- Max Required Expenditures For Choice Related transportation And Supplemental Education Services **: $294,581
- Maximum Per-Child Expenditure for Supplemental Educational Services *** $2,009.42
- District Year Title 1 Allocation *: $1,503,825
- Max Required Expenditures For Choice Related transportation And Supplemental Education Services **: $300, 765
- Maximum Per-Child Expenditure for Supplemental Educational Services *** $1,571.39
*Actual amounts received by LEAs will be smaller than shown here due to State-level adjustments to Federal Title I allocations. States adjust allocations, for example, to reflect LEA boundary changes or the creation of new LEAs, including charter school LEAs, that are not accounted for in the statutory calculations. States also are permitted to reserve, for administration, up to 1 percent of the allocations they would receive if $14 billion were appropriated and generally must reserve 4 percent in fiscal year 2010 for school improvement activities. These adjustments will reduce the actual amounts available under all three columns of the table
**Choice-Related Transportation and Supplemental Educational Services: An LEA must use up to an amount equal to 20 percent of its Title I, Part A allocation (the “20-percent reservation”) received from the State to cover choice-related transportation costs for students who exercise a choice option and to pay for supplemental educational services for students whose parents request such services. The 20-percent reservation may include Title I, Part A funds or funding from other Federal, State, local, and private sources. The amount shown in this column is the Department’s estimate of the amount that affected LEAs—those with schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring—may have to spend to meet this requirement. Actual expenditures will depend on such factors as the number of students exercising a choice option or receiving supplemental educational services and the costs of satisfying these requests. An LEA has discretion to determine the allocation of these funds between choice-related transportation and supplemental educational services, except that it must spend at least one-quarter of the 20-percent reservation—or an amount equal to 5 percent of its Title I, Part A allocation—on each activity if there is demand for both from students and their parents
***Maximum Per-Child Expenditure for Supplemental Educational Services: An LEA that must arrange for supplemental educational services is required to pay, for each child receiving services, the lesser of the actual cost of the services or an amount equal to the LEA’s Title I, Part A allocation received from the State divided by the number of poor students in the LEA, as determined by estimates produced by the US Bureau of the Census. Thus the amount shown in this column reflects the statutory “cap”on per-child expenditures for supplemental educational services.
I have voiced some concerns recently that Salem has been granting Title 1(SW) status and funds to Saltonstall and apparently Witchcraft Heights for several years when neither school has met the 40% minimum for low income students. Withcraft Heights remains under the 40% cut off and Saltonstall only just reached 40% in the past academic year. So without any evidence to the contrary I am once again forced to believe that SPS has been for want of better terminology “cooking the books.”
None of this makes any sense when we have more higher needs children at Bentley, Bowditch and Carlton who would likely benefit more from this funding. Also of note is that failure to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards for 4 consecutive years can result in a decrease in funding and Salem has certainly not been meeting those targets in the past few years. I do not want to see any money taken away from the neediest children, or any child for that matter, but I do want to know where this money is being spent, and how the District has managed to do what appears to be an end run around federal law.