Wednesday, September 27, 2023

On the potential federal government shutdown (again)

 ...which even EdWeek is saying "(again)" about. 

There is no good news here, so please enjoy this chicken.

First, a lot of what I wrote in 2013 is still the case, as two things still hold true:

  1. Most funding for K-12 education does not come from the federal government, anyway.
  2. The way most of that funding comes to schools is done in a way that doesn't get hit short term.

As District Administration notes in their coverage of this, the first things schools are likely to see is the community hit:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—also known as food stamps—would only be guaranteed through October and federal funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would run out a few days into a shutdown, CNN reports. Food banks, Meals on Wheels and housing assistance programs would also be disrupted, causing continued uncertainty for families.

There are, of course, exceptions, most notably federal impact aid and Head Start:
The biggest impact could be that, the longer a government shutdown lasts, school staff will likely have to contend with growing needs in surrounding communities. Some 10,000 children would immediately lose access to Head Start because grants would not be awarded during a shutdown. And, The White House warns, the impacts on the pre-K program would worsen over time.
 If we go longer, then we reasonably can worry about things like federal lunch reimbursement. 

What I have yet to see is anyone talking about the flow of ESSER funding to schools; if you see anything on that one, let me know.

UPDATE: The Department of Education today has released this letter, outlining its plans if the shutdown happens. See the chart below for a summary.
ESSER is the balance of a multi-year appropriation, which is listed as exempt in the first paragraph of the letter. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

September Board of Ed: amendment on student discipline regulations

 no questions on this which passes

September Board of Ed: FY24 update

 Bell on the FY24 budget

third year of Student Opportunity Act implementation
weighted to districts with greater need
increase in minimum aid to $60 per students; costs about $16M to the Commonwealth
"basically halfway through the investment called for in the Student Opportunity Act"
commitment to support districts with extraordinary special education costs (circuit breaker): to about $500M
impacts of increased tuition rates through special education private schools
$5M to $20M for assistance for the current year (as circuit breaker is a reimbursement), plus $75M sent by Governor to Legislature in supplemental
increase in almost $10M in rural aid
transportation reimbursement accounts funded at highest levels:
regional and non-resident students funded at high levels
homeless transportation significant strains as it relates to families needing services; working with administration to identify what those additional costs will be
remains to be seen what those homeless transportation costs will be
universal free school meals started last year through supplemental budget; effectively state's wraparound payment (additional to USDA) "we think that's a good thing"
a lot of new things happening in the budget, too
continued investment in other programs, mostly through grantmaking
assist schools with green schools; "not an activity we're familiar with"
digging in in consultation with the MSBA; new initiative we'll be working on

ESSER: closing in at end of spending authorization for ESSER II
85% of funds claimed (about $115M not claimed) in ESSER II; "certainly doesn't mean it won't be claimed"
"late liquidation" process on a project basis; obligation has to occur, but 18 month reconciliation side
ESSER III (good through end of next September): 55% claim rate (roughly $1.1B still available)
actively engaged with school districts that still mathematically still have a lot of funding unclaimed on the spreadsheets
roughly $1B is out to be claimed

September Board of Ed: MCAS results

Riley: achievement slide caused by the pandemic appears to be over
"either maintained or increased number of students meeting or exceeding"
"need to continue on the momentum"
accountability : "today's data will not include any exiting or entering underperforming status": coming in the coming weeks
66 schools of schools of recognition

Curtin: "the embargo on the results is lifted"
"achievement slide since 2019 has halted and recovery is fully underway"
Science remain relatively unchanged
"positive momentum" towards recovery
one caution is grade 3 "has not increased"; results are flat
they were in preK or K during height of pandemic

statewide results can mask school and district results
all grades in ELA either held or gained ground over last year
compared to 2019, still have ground to make up; on average 10% points off 2019
grade 10 flat from last year
by race and ethnicity relatively unchanged with overall results; Black students 1% off of 2022, 4% compared to 2019; Hispanic students just about back to 2019 level
"math represents a similar but better story"
really large increases of +3 (grade 4) +5 (grade 5); flat results in grade 10
by race and ethnicity; "more in the two range across the board" increases across the board
compared to 2019, distance to be made up
in math in grade 10, greater than in ELA
science, relatively stable, slight decreases "caused by rounding"
cannot compare grade 10 to 2019 as implemented new science test in 2022
5% increase in grade 10 Asian students compared to 2022

accountability system running in full for first time since 2019
all schools receiving overall accountability classification, plus student group percentiles
criterion referenced percentage towards targets
no designations on underperforming or chronically underperforming exit/entrance today

of 1832 schools, 226 receiving "insufficient data"
remaining 1607: 1331 "not requiring assistance or intervention"  83%
275 "requiring assistance or intervention" 17%
also normative indicators 1-99 within grade groupings
points assigned on progress towards each accountability indicators
over 60% of 50 or higher making either substantial progress towards targets or meeting or exceeding targets

September Board of Ed: historical overview of MCAS

 Craven: asked for overview prior to release of scores, will have Hills

Curtin: "nothing I say today should be construed as myself or the Department as taking any position on any proposed ballot question"
McDuffy v. Secretary

September Board of Ed: health and physical education framework

 Riley: current dates back to 1999
"document has benefited further from public comment"
up to individual school districts to determine implementation
parents continue to have right to opt children out of sexual education "which is a very small portion" of these frameworks
they didn't put names on the slides so I have no idea who is talking; it's DESE staff

Kristen McKinnon, Assistant Director for DESE’s Office of Student and Family Support:
grateful work of many (some of whom are named, but I am not catching these names)
now going over process...which I am not going to type up, because you have been here for much of it
public comment made "more accessible and ready for our educators and students to access"
reviewed and analyzed the nearly 5400 pieces of public comment

(and this is someone else)
will then launch implementation support sessions and resources; PD, online connections to other frameworks; and update crosswalks to national standards

Stewart: was pleased to see the language was broadened to include social media
Hills: add appreciation; work started pre-pandemic
Gardiner: adds appreciation for (her fellow) students for their advocacy
Moriarty: glad to see that it's responsive to public comment; glad to see implementation; completing the set
have now worked through all the curriculum frameworks
"Don't stop...excellent opportunity to take a fresh look" at all the frameworks
West: question: received correspondence from people in Newton (notes "strong Newton contingent on Board")
Safe Routes to Schools task force comments received but weren't in what was received
answer: it was an oversight; updated on website


five minute break!

September Board of Ed: comments from Secretary, Commissioner, Chair, election of vice chair

 ..and housekeeping...

agenda is still here

Tutwiler: lift up beginning of new school year
"seems to be incredible optimism"
excited 'because we believe what the budget will do for public schools"
full funding of phase of SOA, free school meals, early college
budget "that acknowledges that every child deserves an education, yes, but...deserves an education for a future that they so choose"

Riley: echo strong opening
echo free school meals for all
"great they can thrive"
Worcester Cultural Academy: approx. 135 students
"fully met its opening requirements"
health and safety in buildings
WPS "working together on transportation students"
"encouraged by collaborative relationship" with the Worcester Public Schools (!)
BPS: recognize AC
will update on bathrooms and transportation at next meeting
migrant families: team at DESE for support
districts have an off-hour contact for troubleshooting
currently supporting 58 districts in total
will talk about funding at next meeting; there has been funding and more coming out
Craven: what specific can state do?
Riley: technical support, webinar, rolling out training
myriad of things doing, and will be bringing out more

Moriarty motions for Hills for vice chair, second by West
vote is unanimous