Analysis: Federal Proposal Could Cost GCS $1.6 Million

Guilford County Schools could lose more than $1.6 million in federal Title I funding under a congressional proposal, expected to be voted on soon, according to an analysis conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools.

The bill, H.R. 5, being considered by the House of Representatives reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in order to revamp No Child Left Behind. It includes a proposal approved by the House Education and Workforce Committee that would allow Title I portability. That means Title I funds for disadvantaged students could follow those students out of public schools and into private and charter schools, effectively redirecting funds away from some of the nation’s poorest inner-city schools and into more affluent schools and neighborhoods.

“Title I funds in our district are already spread out rather thinly over 67 schools. Transferring part of what funds remain after the current allocation to more affluent schools will leave poverty schools with even less to work with,” said Dr. Sandra Alexander, At-Large Guilford County Board of Education member. “Does Congress assume that more affluent schools will better manage federal funds designated for poor students and will get better results? The data collected from No Child Left Behind has shown us repeatedly that has not been the case in the past.”

Title I funds are currently given to schools with the highest percentages of low-income students. Each year, the Guilford County Board of Education identifies Title I schools, and the funds are used to support school-wide strategies that enhance instruction for students so that they meet state standards. Such strategies include supplemental instructional materials, additional teaching staff, funding for field trips, parent and family engagement opportunities and additional professional development for staff.

Coupled with the repeal of the current 40 percent poverty threshold for using Title I funds school-wide – thereby allowing Title I allocations to benefit any student within a school – the bill would diminish the support intended to offset the impact of concentrations of poverty on learning.

Nationwide, according to the analysis, urban public schools stand to lose some $615 million which could result in the reduction of nearly 7,000 teaching positions across the nation’s urban schools, cutback in professional development and instructional coaching, fewer resources for textbooks and instructional materials, a loss of after-school and summer programs, and a decline in counseling and other student supports for urban schoolchildren.

“This provision in H.R. 5 would be a tragic reallocation of scarce federal resources away from the schools and students with the greatest needs,” said Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools. “This would dilute the original federal intention of marshalling resources to bolster educational opportunity for poor students.”

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the proposal by the end of the month.