The current House version of the proposed state budget SB 897 contains a provision to change how Disadvantaged Students Supplemental Funding (DSSF) is distributed. The provision (Page, 33 Section 7.23) states:
In determining whether to approve a local school administrative unit’s plan for the expenditure of funds allocated to it for disadvantaged student supplemental funding, the State Board of Education shall take into consideration the extent to which the local school administrative units’ policies or expenditures contribute to increased segregation of schools on the basis of race and socioeconomic status.
The language is clearly expansive and orders the State Board of Education (SBE) to include the impact of local school administrative unit’s policies and spending on school segregation by race AND socioeconomic status. While Wake County is clearly targeted, the language makes all districts subject to the provisions. If SBE doesn’t like your policies and spending, according to the provision, it can withhold DSSF funds. Aside from questions about the wisdom of passing legislation to reverse the current direction of the Wake County Board of Education, do we really want to make SBE the ultimate arbiter over how formula funds are distributed and give SBE even more authority to tinker with the composition of our public schools?
According to the NC Department of Public Instruction, last year WCPSS received $3.4 million in DSSF funding. Total DSSF funding last year was about $76.2 million.
The absence of any details as to how the State Board of Education would make such decisions is conspicuous. My guess is they aren’t quite sure how the impact of such policies and expenditures would be assessed either.
You might find it interesting that the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Public School Funding Formulas has been reviewing each formula that distributes dollars to the public schools in North Carolina. What were the committee’s interim recommendations regarding DSSF funding?
The Committee recognizes that LEAs are experiencing an increasing number of disadvantaged students, particularly in those LEAs that do not receive Low Wealth Supplemental Funding. The Committee therefore recommends an increase in funding for DSSF.
So much for the need to provide SBE with new authority and to tie DSSF funding to an LEA’s impact on segregation.