The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Local Education

May 13, 2014

Federal waiver threat creates local uncertainty about Title I funding

ANDERSON — Madison County public schools could have less flexibility in how $4.5 million in federal money is spent to help at-risk children if Indiana loses its waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education notified state education officials that the waiver is in jeopardy because it failed to meet eight of 19 benchmarks the state agreed to when the waiver was granted in 2012.

The Indiana State Board of Education held a special meeting on Tuesday to hear how Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of public instruction, is responding to Department of Education concerns.

Ritz maintains that Indiana is not in danger of losing its waiver and that her staff is working with federal officials to address their concerns.

“We will respond to (education officials) within the next two months with amendments that capture steps we have taken to ensure full compliance with our flexibility waiver,” Ritz said in an earlier statement.

Alice Johnson, superintendent of Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools, said there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how local school districts might be affected by the loss of the waiver.

“If we are noncompliant, Indiana could be penalized financially from the federal government,” she said. “Will they do that? I don’t know.”

Part of the issue may be the Indiana General Assembly’s decision to abandon the national Common Core standards and replace them with Indiana specific education standards.

Johnson said new Indiana standards largely mirror Common Core, which leads her to believe that some of the current disagreements have political overtones.

“I don’t think that when push comes to shove, that Gov. (Mike) Pence is going to allow any student to be harmed because essentially the federal monies we’re talking about is special education funding and Title I funding,” Johnson said. “Those two categories are the ones that would affect our schools.”

Title I final grant allocations for Madison County public schools • Anderson Community Schools -- $3.12 million • Elwood Community Schools -- $513, 454 • Frankton-Lapel Community Schools -- $330,777.13 • South Madison Community Schools -- $335,623.31 • Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools -- $266,115.57 -- Indiana Department of Education

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