Board members withdraw Title I revamp that would give a bigger chunk to poorest schools
Mike Szymanski | September 11, 2017
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A plan that could have hurt funding for magnet and affiliated charter schools was withdrawn as LA Unified leaders continue to debate the issues of equity in distributing money to schools in the poorest communities.
A resolution proposed in June would have reshuffled the Title I money that the federal government allots for low-income schools. The realignment would have led to as much as half a million dollars in cuts to a few schools in the San Fernando Valley, diverting the money to schools in South Central Los Angeles that have a high percentage of poor students.
The proposal was going to be voted on at Tuesday’s school board meeting but was withdrawn late last week. In June, the issue prompted a 90-minute debate. Although the resolution is off the table for this week, the issues of equity in the distribution of the money must be addressed sometime this fall by the superintendent.
“The discussion that we still need to have is one of equity,” said board member Mónica García, who proposed the resolution along with board member George McKenna. “We must decide if these funds are to be distributed to those with the most needs.”
The districts represented by García and McKenna have among the poorest schools in LA Unified, which receive Title I money from the federal government. The formula that is figured out by the school district hasn’t changed since 2011.
The reshuffling was proposed because of an anticipated 16 percent cut in federal money for Title I, which has not yet happened. The proposal caused widespread concern among principals in some districts that depended on the money and would see cuts.
García said she hoped that Superintendent Michelle King and her staff will come up with a proposal that addresses the equity issue.
“It is not all about money,” García said. “But we need to discuss how to repurpose this imbalance. The board does not want to shut down excellence, but we need to do things differently if we want different outcomes.”
In June, the board voted 6-1 (with García the only dissenter) to wait until this fall on the Title I shifts and to see what plans the superintendent and staff will present as a possible alternative when the Title I money is final. The amounts of money and lists of schools affected could change in October after Norm Day, when schools have settled on the enrollment numbers. None of the changes would take place before the 2018-19 school year.
In the current two-tier system, schools with 65-100 percent poverty this year received $569 per student, while those schools with 50-64 percent poverty received $433 per student.
“We have broadened the conversation of equity now to the whole school board, and we must now look at it,” García said.