All Articles Tagged "education funding"
(Christian Science Monitor) — To better diagnose achievement gaps and help education leaders tailor solutions, federal civil rights officials on Thursday released an expanded, searchable set of information – drawn from schools in more than 7,000 districts and representing at least three-quarters of American students. The survey’s data show, as never before, the education inequities that hold various groups of students back. For example, in 3,000 high schools, math classes don’t go higher than Algebra I, and in 7,300 schools, students had no access to calculus. Schools serving mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers as are schools serving mostly whites in the same district.
(Wall Street Journal) — Chicago won $20 million in federal money over three years to help improve its worst-performing schools, part of a $3.5 billion program that targeted 1,247 failing schools nationwide. The district is kicking in another $7 million in local money, and officials were determined to invest in programs that would help them measure progress, use the information to fine-tune tactics on the fly, and hold staff and students accountable for the results. ”We want to move investments to things that work,” said Don Fraynd, the district official overseeing Marshall’s turnaround. One year in, results from Marshall are far from conclusive, but district officials see promising trends. Average attendance rose 22 points to 75% for the year, and 79% of freshmen were on track to advance to 10th grade, up from 34%. At each grade level, scores on standardized tests improved from fall to spring in English, math, reading and science. Other Chicago schools that have been in the program longer have reported similar gains.
(Chicago Tribune) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Chicago Public Schools board drew a battle line between the new administration and the teachers union with its first official act when it voted Wednesday to rescind the 4 percent annual raise due to teachers and other school union members. The board’s unanimous vote, allowed under a provision of the contract that is set to expire in 2012, saves an estimated $100 million as the city’s public schools confront a deficit now pegged at $712 million for the coming year. ut Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the union would seek to negotiate the decision to stop the raises from going into effect. If that fails, union leaders could reopen the entire contract — a move that could allow the district to fast-track plans for a longer school day and year for city schoolchildren.
(Chicago News Cooperative) — When the Chicago Board of Education meets Wednesday to vote on a scheduled 4 percent raise for teachers, one figure will be crucial to the debate: The $724 million deficit the Emanuel administration says Chicago Public Schools is facing for the upcoming year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard have repeatedly cited the almost $720 million deficit, and Emanuel mentioned it again Monday when he called on the state to give CPS the roughly $300 million it is owed in back payments. But a Chicago News Cooperative review of the district’s funding sources shows that the calculations are inconsistent and CPS’s actual deficit is still unclear. There is no question CPS is in a large financial hole. The extent of the deficit, however, depends primarily on how much federal stimulus money the district has available and whether late payments from the state are taken into account.
(New York Times) — Like thousands of other Chicago parents every year, Jennifer Meade-Magruder is not sure which public school her child will attend in the fall. This year, the prospects are even more unsettling because the preschools that could serve her special-needs son, Joshua, face smaller budgets that could force them to close. Ms. Meade-Magruder may not know until late summer if Joshua’s current school, where he has thrived, will close. If it does, Chicago Public Schools must find a place for him, but the new spot may not include the support he now receives. That could leave his mother with little time to scramble for an alternative.
(Washington Post) — The Prince George’s County Council approved a $2.7 billion budget Thursday that slightly reduces spending on education but sustains several key schools programs and may avert teacher layoffs. With the new budget, council members also allocated funds for an economic development fund and for road repairs, new police and fire recruits, and a one-time $750 bonus for county employees. The public school system receives the single largest share of the county budget: Spending on the schools will total about $1.6 billion, about $13 million less than the current budget. The council, which does not have line-item authority over school spending, has urged the school board to restore funds for a popular overnight nature camp for fifth-graders; to maintain busing for specialized academic programs; and to retain many aspects of an elementary reading program that has helped improve students’ skills.
(Chicago Tribune) — While much of the recent talk about reforming Chicago Public Schools has focused on boosting student achievement, the most pressing concern for the district’s new leadership team is simple economics. The nation’s third-largest school district faces a $720 million budget deficit for the next school year that is a result of years of financial missteps, shifting priorities and postponing difficult decisions to cut payroll and programs. Beginning in 2004, when times were good and a robust housing market left CPS flushed with cash, district officials increased the annual raises paid to teachers to 4 percent from 2 percent. That higher salary bump and other financial incentives were locked into a five-year contract extension reached in 2007. But as new schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard officially takes charge this week during a time of financial uncertainty, the district’s largesse has become a burden. Those pay raises, tenure and performance bonuses, along with rising health care and pension costs, will increase CPS expenses by $170 million in 2011-12. And that wouldn’t be so bad, officials say, if CPS weren’t also dealing with $360 million in federal stimulus money and jobs funding that will dry up this year. The district also saw about $190 million shaved from its cash reserves.
(AJC) — Georgia is only one quarter of the way into its four-year, $400 million federal Race to the Top grant, but school districts are already seeing changes. Atlanta is starting a program to recruit teachers to high-need urban schools. Bibb County is hiring graduation coaches for high schools and buying hand-held computers for students at low-performing schools. Gwinnett County — the state’s largest district with 150,000 students — is helping other school systems mimic the district’s successful grow-your-own-principal program. At least two more districts — DeKalb and Gwinnett — are getting coveted Teach for America slots, bringing in recent college graduates to low-income schools to teach for two years. The state also hopes to open slots in Clayton County.
(AJC) — School officials in Atlanta, Decatur, and DeKalb and Fulton counties are gearing up to ask voters to extend their local education sales taxes for five more years. Decatur’s school board has the sales tax vote penciled in for November, and the other boards appear to be heading in that direction and moving to pick projects that could be priorities for the hundreds of millions of dollars likely to be raised. The current SPLOSTs, which have gone to build new schools, renovate others and buy technology, are by law required to sunset next March, unless voters approve extensions. Collectively, they’re expected to bring in about $1.5 billion. One school board cannot hold a sales tax referendum without the other three because of overlapping boundaries under state law. The DeKalb School Board is “on track for pursuing SPLOST IV” and “definitely shooting for November,” board Chairman Tom Bowen said Friday.
(The Root) — There’s a new conversation bubbling up these days at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware. ”We’ve been researching best practices, visiting other schools to learn about programs that have worked for them, and we are constantly talking about what’s best for our students,” says assistant principal Clifton Hayes. “Vice President Biden coming by last week to celebrate was just the icing on the cake.” It’s been one year since Delaware, along with Tennessee, won the first round of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competitive grant program. Funded by the Recovery Act and designed to spur bold education reform, the program makes $4.35 billion available to all 50 states — but only if they agree to certain guidelines for improving their education systems, such as raising academic standards and boosting support for the lowest-performing schools. Winners of the competition’s second round, announced last August, include Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
“In each successive round, we’ve leveraged change across the country,” President Obama said in a speech at the National Urban League conference last summer, extolling Race to the Top. “It’s forced teachers and principals and officials and parents to forge agreements on tough and often uncomfortable issues — to raise their sights and embrace education.” But the program has also been a lightning rod for controversy. Opponents see it as budgetary blackmail that forces states to change their education laws based on the administration’s ideas — and call the U.S. Education Department’s jumble of reform strategies, like expanding the number of charter schools and merit pay for teachers, misguided at best. Race to the Top’s structure as a competition, civil rights groups further contend, stacks the deck against poor and minority students, who will be left at the bottom.