In a post earlier in the week, I poised the question of whether or not this year’s budget process was more chaotic than in previous years. I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that none have ever produced a community-generated petition asking the school board to hold the Director of Schools accountable until now. Today I received a copy of the petition and a request to share it. That is why I am writing this post.
In sharing, I want to attempt to clarify something in the introduction to the attached petition. This isn’t an attempt to discredit the call to action – I support it a 100% – but rather an ongoing attempt to keep things as close to accurate as possible in order not to open the door to being discredited. I think it’s important that if we are to hold the Director of Schools accountable for the veracity of his statements, we need to be as factual as possible as well.
There is always confusion around Title I numbers. The state did indeed change the way Title I eligibility is calculated. Now, only students who are directly certified to receive free lunches — families receiving certain government assistance — are counted as poor. This change has resulted in our schools seeing lower official poverty numbers. This new method does not take undocumented or refugee students into account, nor people who don’t sign up for direct services. In order to counter that fact, the federal government allows districts to multiple their measured number by 1.6 so that becomes their official poverty number. If a school’s percentage comes up higher than 100%, their official number is 100%. Any school that has a poverty number over 75% must receive district funds as mandated by the federal government.
It is my opinion that the Title I distribution formula will be changed again at tomorrow’s giant conclave of principals, EDDSIs, and Community Superintendents. If that does happen, then all principals will have to redo their budgets. All principal budget meetings originally scheduled for this week have been canceled. It is my understanding that positions at individual schools can not be filled until all individual budgets have been approved. Which means we’ll begin hiring teachers again in May, once again getting a late start. Teachers should probably check on when the transfer window closes – I believe it is May 21 – in order that they don’t get caught out of it.
I agree with the petition that the budget process this year has been extremely opaque and misleading. Numbers have changed often enough that it is hard to get a clear picture and understanding of the whole budget. It’s imperative that a central office budget be released as soon as possible in order to get a clearer picture. I’m not even sure why we are having this much of a conversation based on this little information. Dr. Joseph and Dr. Narcisse like to pontificate upon the need to control the noise, but they have not been successful in doing so around the budget this year. I hope all of you will sign this petition and make even more noise.
Here it is: