Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CMS report: Fine print is fascinating

How many teachers from the schools that closed this year lost their jobs with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools?  How much Title I money are high-poverty schools getting , and how do they spend it?  What do the numbers show about students being suspended?

All of those items are in the data tables that came with a report interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh presented to the school board in December.  (Read the full report here.)  The report focuses on 42 schools that saw change this year because of closings,  mergers and other changes related to the 2011-12 budget.

The answers:

*Of 341 teachers in 10 schools that closed,  61 did not return to CMS this year.  Only eight of those left because their contracts were not renewed.  Among 36 schools CMS categorizes as "impacted" by changes,  243 of 1,704 teachers did not return to CMS,  and 44 of those were "nonrenewals."

*Three high schools that hit the 75 percent mark for students receiving lunch aid  (Harding,  West Charlotte and West Meck)  got more than $600,000 each in Title I federal money to aid high-poverty schools.  For elementary and middle schools listed,  the Title I budget is generally in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.  The report lists how each school is using the money.

*The numbers show a significant jump in suspensions at many of the schools that saw change,  from South Meck High to Alexander Graham Middle to Barringer Elementary.  The increase is far more than changes in enrollment would predict,  and CMS officials aren't sure why that's happening,  other than to say this is a transition year.  A couple of schools bucked the trend:  West Meck High lost students and saw a reduction that's out of proportion to the change  (but the schools that got those students have seen suspensions spike).  And Alexander Middle merged with Davidson IB,  which closed;  so far Alexander has fewer suspensions than both schools combined during the same period last school year.


Anonymous said...

Title I is Federal money. Is there an itemized breakdown of how that over half a million dollars is spent at each school? There has to be some accountabilty and some sort of RESULTS.

Wiley Coyote said...

LOL..sorry Ann...I have to do this...

You left off one question in your opening paragraph:

How much Title I money is paid to schools based on erroneous FRL data?

Also, maybe you should ask Hattabaugh why is it those three high schools are just now receiving Title I funds when schools don't have to have that high of a poverty rate.

This from the NC NCLB website:

Are there different types of Title I schools?

Yes. Funding supports Title I Schoolwide Programs and Targeted
Assistance Schools, depending on the level of poverty in the school and how the school wants to function.

Schoolwide Program schools have 40 percent or more of the children on free or reduced-price lunch and go through a one-year planning process.

Schoolwide Programs have flexibility in using their Title I funds, in conjunction with
other funds in the school, to upgrade the operation of the entire school.

Targeted Assistance Schools have 35
percent or more of the students on free or reduced-price lunch and use Title I funds to focus on helping the students most at risk of academic failure on state assessments.

What are the state and federal standards for low-income students and schools in poverty?

Low-income students are defined as those meeting free or reduced-price lunch criteria. Schools in poverty are defined by the
percentage of low-income students.

A Title I school must have: 1) a percentage of low-income students that is at least as high as the district's overall percentage; or 2) have at least 35 percent low-income students (whichever is
the lower of the two figures).

Only about one-third of the schools eligible for Title I are funded nationwide.

Anonymous said...

Free lunch is a free lunch to that title 1 crowd. We continue to pay for it they continue to expect it. Their parents do not care about education or the ones their kids get. They care that we watch them for 6-8 hrs a day. Go to a board meeting with these same questions and they wont have answers either ! They dont send their kids to CMS ( Stewart) she knows how bad Harding is !

Anonymous said...

Kansas City schols back in the news.


Anonymous said...

I have seen Title 1 monies used a number of ways to target these schools/students. I however have not seen any final analysis that says a certain strategy can be linked to some academic improvement. I have seen funds used to buy smart boards, upfit computer labs, buy additional reading strategy books, fund specific teachers (and then county taxpayers have to kick in to pay them equivalent to a CMS teacher), staff development, etc. If any one has other uses, that would interesting.

But as the first poster noted, while CMS can probably quickly tell you what they spent it on, having an objective measure that it lead to any improvement is less predictable.

While many schools in CMS do meet the federal definition for Title 1 (abeit the point Wiley Coyote makes), the money is collected up and funneled only to the FOCUS schools. The Tile 1 office at CMS has sent me that list before of the identified Title 1 funding at the specific schools.

Ann Doss Helms said...

1:18, unless CMS has changed it, Title I schools are actually a subset of FOCUS schools (which you don't hear as much about in recent years). Title I schools in CMS have at least 75 percent economically disadvantaged (as Wiley notes, it can be much lower in many districts); FOCUS generally has a lower threshhold. Here's the CMS list of TI schools: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/fed-state-programs/title-I/Pages/Schools.aspx

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...


Who is making the decision to use 75% as the Title I threshold, instead of the 35 to 40% range?

Anonymous said...

12:53--AdvanceEd, the agency which is threatening to pull KC accreditation, last year threatened to pull accred. for Wake County because they were changing their method of assignment from one based on socio-economics to a more neighborhood based plan. AdvanceEd had received complaints from state NAACP. I'm not sure what the outcome of all of this was but in my mind that undermined the credibility of AdvanceEd--appeared to be a purely political move. In the case of KC, however, they are probably correct. We lived in neighboring Overland Park 20 years ago, when the state was just beginning to pump major amounts of money into the system and middle class was bailing out as fast as they could. Nothing seems to have improved since that time.

Wiley Coyote said...

From Florida:

Districts may extend Title I benefits to schools lower than 75%, yet not below the district average percentage of free/reduced price meals. (Currently, in Hillsborough, Title I benefits are extended to high schools down to 56% and elementary and middle schools down to 60%. The district poverty average is 56%.)

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, I'm learning some of the federal rules from you, and the thing you posted says a Title I school must have an EDS level at least as high as the district average. So that would mean CMS couldn't distribute the money to schools with poverty levels below 54 percent, right?

The 75 percent decision was in place when I started the beat in 2002. The rationale I've always heard is that CMS has so many high-poverty schools that spreading the money to more schools would water down its impact (though an earlier commenter makes a good point that the impact has never been clearly reported).

I'm not sure who's formally responsible for deciding how to distribute the money, but my strong guess is that even if the superintendent CAN do it unilaterally, that wouldn't happen without board discussion and approval.

Wiley Coyote said...


You're right and that's been one of my sticking points - that no one seems to have a handle on what "it"...is when it comes to data with CMS. Title I, NSLP. etc.

I'm willing to spend the money it takes to help those who need it so we can move beyond the minutia, but when we're constantly playing Three Card Monte, it's hard to have any faith in the system.

Our Governor just announced she wants to reinstate a three-quarter cent sales tax increase in the next budget to stop "deep and unnecessary cuts" to schools.

Yet she doesn't bother coming clean for the $50 MILLION she raided from the Education Lottery to balance the state budget awhile back.

Anonymous said...

economically disadvantaged ... because they're lazy moochers and always will be.

Anonymous said...

Simple question: Why are the schools that receive more funding (our taxes) underperforming, yet schools in the areas that are generating the tax dollars that are underfunded are over performing? The only folks that are disadvantaged are the tax payers…finally a message to title one transfers: keep your kids in your area schools and fight to make them better.