Articles tagged with funding

NSBA praises Senate bill to boost K-12 funding

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports a budget plan passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee that would increase funding for K-12 education, including Title I grants and special education. Most importantly, the bill would reverse the automatic budget cuts that will impact all K-12 education programs by this fall, known as sequestration.

A July 10 letter sent to all Senators noted that the proposed fiscal 2014 budget blueprint would help sustain targeted investments, and praised its increases to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the main federal special education law, and early education. “Protecting baseline funding for these priorities, and providing the increases needed to help address existing shortfalls, will help our school districts and states avoid reductions to the scope and delivery of education services and advancement,” the letter states. However, more money for IDEA is needed, the letter adds.

The bill also emphasizes early education by allotting a $1.6 billion increase for Head Start, including funds to expand Early Head Start and build a new Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships to serve children and families from before birth through age 3.

According to NSBA’s advocacy team, Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said that she will push to get the bill on the Senate floor for debate. The last time an education funding bill was debated by the Senate was 2007, she stated.

The House Appropriations Committee has adopted an overall allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee that could reduce funding for education by more than 18 percent, which would equate to more than a $4.5 billion cut to Title I grants and special education, according to NSBA’s advocacy team. The future of that measure is uncertain.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|July 12th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , |

NSBA: Fordham survey misses the mark on school funding

The National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne L. Bryant was asked to comment on a new survey by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation that shows how members of the public would cut funding for public schools. The survey found that many would prefer to downsize the ranks of administrative staff rather than teachers, freeze teacher salaries, or lay off teachers based on factors other than seniority. Bryant’s response is below.

Looking at the new Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s survey, “How Americans Would Slim Down Public Education,” it’s abundantly clear that Americans are interested, engaged and supportive of their local schools. There is also an overriding sense that many of these hard choices must be made at the local level with a community’s input–thus showing clear evidence for the need for local school boards.

The authors have created a scenario of choosing between critical programs and staff for public schools—choices such as laying off teachers, instructional leaders, arts and music classes and extracurricular activities. However, this survey is about four years late–many public schools are already operating on a bare-bones administration and have been forced to make tough choices to lay off teachers and cut academic programs. And with the federal government looking to implement sequestration this January, K-12 programs may see further across-the-board cuts.

While reducing the number of administrators seems like the obvious answer, as 69 percent of respondents chose, many of these officials play key roles in developing curriculum, managing services, and performing other duties that are directly tied to student achievement. Like any business, school districts need officials to manage budgets and operations to ensure that students are safe and teachers and principals can focus on their jobs.

The public sent a clear message that they prefer forgoing raises or slight salary cuts for teachers and other staff in lieu of layoffs. We’ve seen many examples of school boards, administrators and union representatives working together to navigate these budget choices. For instance, school board members and officials in the Boone County Public Schools in Florence, Ky., worked with their teachers union on a plan to forgo raises in lieu of layoffs, so that student/teacher ratios could be maintained. The labor-management relationship “is truly a relationship built on trust, accountability and respect,” as school board member and current President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) C. Ed Massey recently told me, and the board has brought in coaches to help all teachers improve their skills. That’s an investment that has paid off in continuous improvement in student learning and college and career readiness, as evidenced by average ACT scores that have climbed from 19.5 in 2008 to 20.9 in 2012.

Fordham should not be at all surprised at the tepid response for full-time cyber schools, as too many at-risk students are performing poorly, or simply not logging in. The Center for Public Education found in its recent report, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools,”  that emerging research shows dismal results for some schools and there is little accountability for public funds.

One aspect of the survey is particularly flawed. The questions related to support for special education services show that, among other findings, 71 percent say programs should be evaluated on their effectiveness and “replaced” if deemed not effective.

The survey questions ignore the landmark 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)  law that mandates a “free appropriate public education” in “the least restrictive environment” for every student identified with a disability. This was a major victory for students with disabilities who previously had been denied an education or received inferior services. Since the law’s passage the numbers of students with disabilities have increased tremendously, largely because of better diagnoses of conditions such as autism and in part because better medical treatments have allowed some severely disabled students to live and attend mainstream schools. More recent reauthorizations of the law have instilled new accountability requirements onto school systems to ensure that students with disabilities are meeting high expectations.

Yet the federal government has never come close to funding the 40 percent of excess costs for educating these students as lawmakers had promised in 1975. Each year NSBA and thousands of school board members and educators lobby the U.S. Congress to request full funding; however, funding currently stands at $11.5 billion, or about 17 percent, and is in danger of being reduced by $900 million through sequestration. This program has been a priority of both parties, as it frees up state and local funding to be spent on programs that each community deems to be its priorities.

A strong public education system attracts and retains businesses that are essential to local economies. Public schools must have the resources to give our students the knowledge and skills needed for long-term global competitiveness. Our nation’s future economic success depends on how smartly and adequately all levels of government invest in public education today.

Erin Walsh|August 2nd, 2012|Categories: Educational Finance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Special Education, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA asks for changes to local Race to the Top proposal

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is concerned that the federal government’s proposed criteria for a new, $400 million Race to the Top (RTTT) district competition could stifle innovation and local control.

“Several of the draft requirements threaten to diminish the program as an [local education agency] grant in name only, including first time requirements that represent alarming precedents for the future,” NSBA wrote in a June 8 letter to the U.S. Department of Education.

In particular, the letter asks the Education Department to eliminate a requirement for school board evaluations, in part because the proposed accountability system would not be a valid measure for school board governance. Further, given that about 95 percent of the nation’s more than 13,000 school boards are elected, community residents already have a accountability mechanism.

NSBA also asks the Education Department to eliminate the “state and mayor, city, or town administrator (MCT) comment period on LEA grant applications,” as these entities may not have a strong knowledge base of education policy and could stifle school district’s innovative proposals. The letter also asks the agency to revise or eliminate other requirements deemed to be bureaucratic or problematic.

The Education Department released draft criteria in May for grants that will go directly to eligible school districts. The concept of the program is to provide RTTT funds that will be aligned with the agency’s reform principles directly to local school districts.

According to NSBA’s legislative advocacy department, this is a “modest program that might be attractive to some school districts, given that the number of grant awards is between 15 and 20 and the maximum grant amount is $15 – 25 million each based on the number of participating students. The program is open to all school districts, not just those located in states that have been awarded RTTT grants.”

Applications will be available in July and grants awarded in December.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 7th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Race to the Top (RTTT)|Tags: , , |

Making a smooth transition

No, BoardBuzz isn’t talking about the transition to a new president later this month. We’re talking about the progress states have been making in enacting policies to help smooth the transition for students as they move up the educational pipeline and onto college and the workforce. This is according to EdWeek’s annual special report Quality Counts 2009: Portrait of a population where they graded each state on Transition and Alignment policies they had enacted in 14 areas. (Note: EdWeek is allowing free access until Jan. 19th)

Once again EdWeek also graded each state on their Chance-for-Success Index, which grades states on how likely a child born in a specific state will be successful later in life. EdWeek also graded states on how they fund their schools based on spending patterns and how equitable they allocated those funds to districts. To find out what grade your state received and what exactly those grades mean check out this summary from the Center for Public Education.

BoardBuzz also recommends you check out the very informative articles in Quality Counts on English Language Learners. But if you don’t have the time to read through each of the articles check out the Center for Public Education’s What research says about English Language Learners.

Jim Hull|January 7th, 2009|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Finance, Educational Research, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , |
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