From the Superintendent: Concerns about the proposed 'Student Success Act'

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Dear Colleagues:

I’d like you to be aware of some financial realities facing Saint Paul Public Schools and urban school districts nationwide. Because of congressional gridlock over the past several years, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, was not reauthorized.

Temporary fixes such as budget resolutions and requirement waivers helped keep our school doors open and children learning.

The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed a new ESEA, called the Student Success Act. Several aspects of the proposed ESEA legislation concern me, but the impact of what is called “portability” is especially troubling.

Portability would allow Title I funds for disadvantaged students to follow those students out of public schools and into private and charter schools, effectively redirecting millions of dollars away from some of the nation’s poorest urban schools and into more affluent schools and neighborhoods.

Title I funds are currently given to school districts, like SPPS, with the highest percentages of low-income students. As a result of proposed legislation, urban public schools nationwide stand to lose some $615 million. SPPS could lose close to $6 million in FY16, gutting district programs that support homeless students, parent engagement and early learning, and drastically reducing funds for schools with high concentration of poor students, students of color, and students whose first language isn’t English.

That also means we’ll have to reduce the number of schools that receive Title I funding. Currently in Saint Paul, we fund most Title I-eligible schools (where low-income students make up at least 40 percet of the school population). With this funding reduction from the federal government, schools would only receive Title I funding if their low-income student population was 50 percent or higher.

This situation makes additional support from the Minnesota State Legislature even more imperative. I will never argue that additional funding alone is the answer, but in the face of significant reduction in federal funds, I sincerely hope the State of Minnesota has our back. For our part, SPPS is closely examining planned expenses for the coming school year.

If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to affect what happens in Washington, please see this link. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Your very proud superintendent,

Silva Signature

 

 

Valeria S. Silva