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Elimination of Title II-A Funds Would Force Districts to Make Tough Choices

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, June 28, 2017

“No backup funds” was the recurring response when superintendents around Michigan were asked how the proposed elimination of federal Title II-A funding would impact their district. Many rely entirely on these funds to provide professional development for teachers and administrators that, in turn, positively impacts student achievement.

In the 2016-2017 school year, Michigan received $84.5 million in Title II-A funding. Under the budget proposal submitted by President Donald Trump for 2017-2018, Title II-A funding is completely eliminated.

As shared in last week’s DashBoard, the funds can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Professional development
  • Implementation, support and monitoring of an educator evaluation system
  • Recruitment and hiring
  • Teacher retention

“Districts like mine where we get a few more dollars on the title and at-risk side because of our higher reduced lunch and low-income students—we really count on these dollars and currently receive $100,000 in Title II-A funds,” shared Belding Area Schools Superintendent Brent Noskey. “We don’t even have line items for professional development in the budget—everything we use comes through Title II funding.

"This past year, we used a portion to bring in Thinking Map training, which our staff said was some of the best PD they’ve ever had in their career,” said Noskey. “We also brought in Wendy Zdeb from Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals to review SAT data at the high school level—this was extremely valuable since it is so new and helped inform us on what changes to make to move forward. Taking away Title II dollars will eliminate any professional development for schools that really need it.”

Traverse City Area Public Schools faces a similar situation according to Superintendent Paul A. Soma. “The elimination of Title II funding will have a major impact on TCAPS. As a result of the funding challenges that have faced schools in Michigan over the last 10+ years, we have come to rely on every dollar we receive, and this includes funding from federal grants. Title II-A funding has been, and continues to be, extremely important as it relates to providing staff development for important curriculum offerings and initiatives. We simply do not have any backup funding to replace any loss in Title II-A. This will force, yet again, decisions related to reducing the budget and cutting programs in order to deliver necessary staff development. It feels like further erosion of public school support at a time when we should be investing more in public education.”

Superintendent of McBain Rural Agricultural School Steve Brimmer shared that, “The proposed cut in Title II-A funds would definitely alter our professional development plans. With the new third grade reading legislation in place, our plan was to use the majority of our Title II allocation on training for our K-3 teachers. However, with the proposed cut in funding, we may not be able to do that. It is disappointing to think that we are being given new legislation to implement and not enough funds to train the staff to do it.”

The impact is even greater when viewed from the ISD level.

“In reviewing the total Title II-A allocation for Washtenaw County districts, elimination would represent nearly $1.5 million (including charter schools),” noted Superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. “For many of our districts, particularly our smaller ones, these funds are essential in order to be able to provide high-quality professional development for their instructional staff. In fact, one superintendent commented at a recent superintendents’ meeting that they wouldn’t be able to provide PD if these funds were eliminated. Investment in ongoing professional development for teachers is absolutely essential to ensure we are implementing research-based instructional practices that lead to measurable growth in student learning. It is my hope that Congress will understand just how important this appropriation is and refuse to adopt the President’s budget proposal.”

MASB has drafted a resolution for your board to adopt opposing the elimination of Title II-A funding; download it here. You can also contact your federal legislators and let them know how this will negatively impact your district and those around the state of Michigan.

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