How Tacoma spends its Title I money and what the impact of loss of NCLB waiver would be

Claims made at Monday Senate hearing that money isn't mostly spent seem untrue

Staff writerMarch 4, 2014 

There were all sorts of claims made at Monday's Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting about how school districts spend - or don't spend - Title I money.

That's the chunk of money distributed to provide intensive assistance for struggling high-poverty students and schools.

One claim was that the districts don't spend all of the money and have large amounts of federal money in surplus. That was said to show that even if Washington state loses its waiver to enforce the federal No Child Left Behind law it would not impact high-poverty students.

I asked Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel for details on how Tacoma spends its title one money.

First, he explained how the money was budgeting for the 2012-13 school year:

"In 2012-2013 TPS was allocated $10,203,278 in federal funding, spent $9,028,552 (88.5%) and carried over $1,174,726 (11.5%) in anticipation of the potential for federal sequestration in 2013-2014. At the time we developed the budget, there were uncertainties about what limitations might be put on Title I due to sequestration. We wanted to be sure if the federal government cut the funding, that we wouldn’t take a big hit all at once but we could ramp down the impact over time by carrying over some of the funding. We don’t lose the money if we don’t use it."

Then I asked Voelpel for details about how the district is spending the money this year and what would happen if the state loses its waiver and has to redeploy 20 percent of Title I funds for private tutoring and other services for struggling students.

"TPS has used the flexibility provided by the NCLB waiver to fund:

  • Six new preschools serving an additional 200 four-year-olds.
  • Extended day and extended year opportunities for vulnerable learners.
  • Real-time instructional coaching to support teachers in the classroom.
  • Focused in-school interventions for students who need help in math or literacy.

Without the flexible funds that come with a waiver from No Child Left Behind, we will have to close six preschools, reduce learning opportunities, reduce coaching support, and increase the risk that our most vulnerable learners fall further behind.

Total Tile I revenue in 13-14: $8,677,108

  • Required Set Aside of 10% for Professional Development: ($867,710)
  • Required Set Aside of 20% SES (third-party tutoring): ($1,735,422)
  • Remaining available balance to fund current programs: $6,073,976

Because we currently fund some items that could be allowable as set aside expenditures for professional development purposes, we would meet the 10% professional development set aside rather easily. The 20% SES set aside is not as simple. Some of our current services would qualify, but the number of services we reduced when the waiver was received would be required to be cut in order to add back NCLB transportation, SES services, and parent involvement expenses. Specifically, we would likely plan to reduce:

  • 6 preschool programs at high risk, high needs schools: ($785,024)
  • 12 Certificated FTE and 5.0 ParaEducator FTE providing preschool for 216 high poverty students
  • 6 instructional coaches at high risk, high needs schools: ($590,400)
  • 6 Teachers providing professional development to more than 90 teachers at 6 schools throughout the district
  • Other allocations to schools for supplies and materials or extra work pay to teachers and staff for tutoring services, etc.: ($359,998)

Maximum impact to the district would be $ 1,735,422 (this represents .5 % of our total budget and 20% of the Title I budget)."

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