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May 27, 2016

Budget Update - Federal Grant and State Program Funding

The district general fund budget was $193M for 2015-16, and is expected to be just over $200M for 2016-17. This includes close to $17.0M in federal grant and state program funding with a primary focus of supporting student learning. These grants and programs include Federal Title Funding, Learning Assistance Program (LAP), bilingual funding, and federal special education funding.
Federal Title Funding $6.5M

Federal Title funding is part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Act was reauthorized as No Child Left Behind, and more recently as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). School year 2016-17 will be transition year to ESSA, with ESSA fully operational for the 2017-18 school year. Funding is allocated by the federal government to each state and then allocated to school districts based on a formula heavily weighted by census poverty data.

Under No Child Left Behind there are various restrictions and set aside requirements on the funding that make it difficult to spend all the funding allocated.  For example, close to $1.0M of Title I Part A funding had to be set aside for supplemental education services/outside tutoring services. We expect more flexibility in the use of Title I Part A funding under the new ESSA. 

The majority of federal title funding allocated to the district falls under the Title I Part A Program. Title I Part A funding is targeted as supplemental funding for supporting lower achieving students in higher poverty schools.
Schools at a poverty level of greater than 75% must be allocated Title I Part A funding.  Schools with the highest poverty percentage are to receive more Title funding on a per student basis than the school with the next lowest poverty percentage, and so on until all schools at greater than 75% are funded. The district had nine schools funded with Title I Part A funds in school year 2015-16.  Title funding supports close to 40 teaching and para educator staff positions

Learning Assistance Program (LAP) Funding $5.0M

The Learning Assistance Program is a state funded program with funding allocated to each school district based on student enrollment and free and reduced lunch percentage. Our district free and reduced lunch percentage is 58.5% with student enrollment expected to be close to 18,000 for 2016-17.

Funding has generally been targeted toward providing support to students at grades K -12 who are below grade level in reading, writing, and math.  The state’s primary initiative for LAP funding allocation has recently shifted to targeting the majority of funding toward supporting reading literacy at grade levels K-4.

All schools in the district receive LAP funding. Over 50 staff consisting of teacher and para educators are funded under the LAP program.

State Bilingual Funding $2.5M

Bilingual funding is allocated to school districts based on the number of students whose primary language is other than English and the students are not considered proficient in English. As of May 2016, our district had a bilingual student count of 2,625. Ten years ago, that number was only 1,270.  In 2015-16, sixteen of the district schools received state bilingual funding in the form of teacher time or para educator time.
Federal Special Education Funding $2.9M

Federal special education funding is provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and distributed to states by a formula based largely on a census of eligible students and then passed through to school districts. The funding is used by our district to supplement special education services and instruction funded with $12.0M in state special education funding.

IDEA was originally enacted in 1975. The intent of IDEA was ensure students with disabilities were receiving the same access to education as other students. IDEA included a funding component since there is added cost to educate students with disabilities. The federal government had set a target to fund 40% of the excess costs.  Figures from 2014 indicate the IDEA funding was covering only 16% of the excess costs.

One of the major challenges of federal funding is the endless list of rules and regulations around how the money can be spent.  We hope that in the future we will see the federal government relax some of those challenging regulations and trust local school boards, administrators, and teachers to use the funds to best meet the needs of the students at the local district level.

Vic Roberts
Director of Business Operations

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