The announcement last week that Washington is the first state to lose its flexibility waiver with the No Child Left Behind Act has local school districts mulling their options.
The state has had the waiver for the past two years. It allows schools not meeting adequate yearly progress to not have to set aside 20 percent of Title I dollars for students who need private tutoring or transportation to another school that is making adequate yearly progress.
The upshot is that the Grandview School District will have $300,000 less to budget for 2014-15, says Superintendent Kevin Chase.
He says that even though the unused portion of the reserved funds are returned to the district in January or February, it means that schools can’t count on those federal dollars for budgeting purposes.
“You might hold off making plans for summer school, there might be some professional development you hold off on or contracts for software vendors delayed,” Chase said of possible impacts to Grandview schools.
He says with the flexibility waiver in place the past two years Grandview schools could implement its own tutorial and after-school programs for students.
“It was a blessing when we were able to use the funds and provide our own tutoring services,” he said.
Chase says those programs funded through the 20 percent (or $300,000) that didn’t have to be set aside the past few years paid for programs that included summer school, credit retrieval for high school students and even math tutoring for elementary school students.
For the Sunnyside School District, the flexibility waiver’s end means about $773,000 less in Title I funds for 2014-15.
District spokesman Curtis Campbell says that figure is preliminary at this point, but it does give school district officials here a good idea of how much less will be available to budget.
Like Grandview, Sunnyside with the waiver has been able to fund its own after-school programs and professional development. Campbell said the dollars also funded two staff positions.
He says it’s too soon to tell how the district will make up for the reduced funds when it comes time for 2014-15 budgeting.
“The administrative team, the school board and the community will have to determine what those priorities are,” Campbell said. “We know how much will be lost, what’s not known is how we make up those savings.”
In a press release issued with last week’s announcement, State Superintendent Randy Dorn said the federal government ended the state’s waiver because the state legislature failed to amend teacher evaluations.
“I’m disappointed — but not surprised,” Dorn said. “There is widespread acknowledgment that NCLB (No Child Left Behind) isn’t working. Congress has failed to change the law at the federal level, so states are forced to come up with workarounds.”
Dorn added, “The legislature needed to amend state law to require teacher and principal evaluations to include student growth on state tests, when appropriate. I agree, student progress should be one of multiple elements in a teacher’s evaluation. Unfortunately, the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the legislature not to act.”