Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

State To Get Less Federal School Aid

Cut Occurring As More Schools Likely To Be Told To Improve

July 10, 2005
By ROBERT A. FRAHM, Courant Staff Writer

As Connecticut's most troubled schools gear up to comply with a tough federal school reform law, they will have to do it with less help this year from the federal government.

Newly released figures show that Connecticut is one of nine states scheduled to see a reduction in federal Title I money, even though more of the state's public schools are likely to be required to make improvements under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Until now, Connecticut, like other states, had seen a sharp increase in federal money since 2001, largely to support the No Child Left Behind law; but this year's funding will decline slightly because the state's child poverty rate has not grown as fast as that of most other states.

Title I funds, aimed at educating disadvantaged children, are awarded based on a formula that takes into account census estimates of child poverty.

Across the nation, No Child Left Behind has increased pressure on schools to raise the test scores of disadvantaged children, but many educators say that federal support has not been enough to pay for the sweeping improvements required by the law.

"Absolutely not. That's pretty clear," said Sandra Cruz-Serrano, senior adviser to the Hartford superintendent of schools.

Any decline in federal funds would come as a blow just as the system is revamping several schools, she said.

The state has not yet announced town-by-town Title I grants, but the overall state allocation of $107.5 million was down about 1.4 percent while most other states saw increases, some as much as 10 percent.

Hartford got more than $20 million in Title I money last year, but that figure will decline just as three elementary schools face wholesale restructuring this year under No Child Left Behind. There are 22 other schools in earlier stages of improvement under the law, Cruz-Serrano said.

The three restructured schools - Milner, Kinsella and Moylan - will require additional support for special education, the hiring of more classroom aides, more teacher training and a revision of curriculum, she said.

In addition, as many as a dozen schools will run behavior management programs that require new staff, curriculum, training and supplies, she said.

"The expectation is those schools will get additional resources to do what needs to be done," she said.

No Child Left Behind is the centerpiece of President Bush's school reform agenda. It calls for a broad expansion of testing and a shake-up of schools that fail to make sufficient progress with all students, including low-income children, special education students and members of minority groups.

Federal officials say the law has been adequately funded and has led to improved academic performance.

"There has been a massive increase in federal funding for K-12 education" under the Bush administration, said C. Todd Jones, a budget official with the U.S. Department of Education.

The president's proposed 2006 budget represents increases of more than 50 percent in Title I funds and 75 percent in special education funds since the president took office, Jones said.

Connecticut's Title I allocation this year showed a slight decline because the population of poor and disadvantaged children grew by just 2.4 percent between 2000 and 2002, compared with a national rate of 5.7 percent, federal figures show.

"Very simply, the money is following where the poor children are," Jones said.

Nevertheless, a 3 percent increase in Title I funds this year has not kept pace with the national growth in childhood poverty, said an analysis of Title I funding by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for public schools.

Although cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will receive substantial increases, about two-thirds of the nation's Title I school districts will get less Title I money this year, the report said.

Connecticut is one of many states that have lodged complaints about No Child Left Behind.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has threatened to sue the U.S. Department of Education, contending the law will cost state and local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Educators say this year's decline in federal funds will put additional strain on state and local school budgets.

The state legislature passed a resolution in late June supporting the lawsuit, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell has not said whether she will sign the resolution.

The increases in federal money in recent years have not kept pace with state or local costs related to No Child Left Behind, according to two recent reports by state education officials.

One of those reports included a case study of New Haven public schools, estimating that by 2008, the city will have spent about $150 million in staff time and actual dollars in efforts to comply with the law - about $10 million more than the federal government will have sent to the school system.

New Haven's federal support "has gone down slightly when there were supposed to be major increases," said Reginald Mayo, the city's school superintendent.

Under the law, "They'll be identifying more and more schools [for improvement]. The bar goes up each year," he said.

"If you really want to make a difference in urban education, you've got to put money into it, just like you do in Iraq. ... Let's bring the guys home from Iraq and pump the money into education.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?