Across-the-Board Cut Makes Title I Allocations a Zero-Sum Game

May 13, 2011 | By Thompson Education | Post a Comment

(This post is excerpted from Title I-Derland, Thompson’s blog on federal K-12 education and was written by Chuck Edwards, senior executive director for Thompson’s education products.) Notwithstanding the impact of the 0.2% across-the-board cut Congress enacted as part of its 2011 budget compromise, a majority of states — 29 out of 52 (including D.C. and Puerto Rico) — can expect to receive at least a small increase in Title I allocations for the school year that begins July 1.

For some states to win, however, others have to lose. Without an increase in the appropriation, allocations are a zero-sum game, driven by shifts among states’ and districts’ relative populations of low-income, school-aged children.

Minnesota is the clear winner according to the preliminary tables, which were released to states for planning purposes May 9 by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Thompson’s analysis shows that the state’s overall allocation will rise by 22% from last year’s amount. Utah and Hawaii follow, with increases of 17% and 12% respectively.

Some big states would suffer major hits. Due to losses of some 6%, California and New York — both with billion-dollar-plus allocations — would see tens of millions of dollars shift to the winners. California would lose $98 million, while New York would lose $71 million. Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico — two more big “states” — would also see reductions of 6%, while Connecticut brings up the rear, with a loss of 6.5%.

The compromise funding bill signed into law April 15 theoretically slated Title I local grants — along with most other domestic programs — for level-funding. But to help achieve the deficit reduction sought by House Republicans, Congress tacked on a 0.2% across-the-board cut at the back end. Thus, the program actually dropped from $14.492 billion to $14.463 billion, a cut of approximately $29 million.

In addition to state totals, ED’s spreadsheets show the preliminary allocations for each Title I school district in the nation. In fact, each state’s allocation is simply the aggregate of its school district’s allocations (with some upward adjustments for certain “minimum-allocation” states).

While districts will likely peruse the data with interest, they must use these numbers with caution: the actual amounts they receive from their states will almost certainly be smaller. States ultimately make significant adjustments to each district’s allocation to cover mandatory state set-asides such as state administrative costs and funding for school improvement activities. In addition, states must shift some funding to eligible special districts, such as charter schools, that are not reflected in ED’s tables.

The numbers just released are preliminary because ED is still awaiting final data on each state’s count of students in institutions for neglected and delinquent children, in foster care, and in families that are on welfare but have incomes above the poverty line. Altogether, these children constitute only 4 percent of the total in the formula; the rest of the population data are based on Census Bureau estimates of children in poverty.

After any necessary adjustments, ED will release the final numbers within the next few weeks, and then states will, in turn, announce final allocations to their districts.

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