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Education Dive, 9/5/18

What did a New Mexico district learn after one year operating on a four-day week?

Cobre Consolidated School District Superintendent Robert Mendoza told PBS that a shorter week has lowered absenteeism rates. On top of that, New Mexico — which continues to struggle recruiting and retaining teachers —did not have any trouble hiring teachers for this past school year after the week was shortened, Mendoza said. But officials looked to make the change because of budgets, and the average savings from the switch is miniscule — it ranges from 0.4% to 2.5%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  It’s also less time for learning. To make up for fewer days in class, students spend more time in school the four days they’re there and have shorter breaks. But in CCSD, that’s still 22 fewer days in the classroom each year.

Education Week, 8/24/18

District spending is about to get a lot more transparent. Are you ready?

ESSA requires districts to publish per-pupil allocations for actual personnel and non-personnel expenditures by each funding source (federal, state, and local funds), for each district, and school on their annual report cards. In the short term, superintendents and principals will need to get on the same page about current district allocation policies and practices, why some schools appear to get more resources than others, and how this all aligns with the stated vision and mission of the district. Over the long term, the new expenditure reporting requirements will push superintendents to be more strategic about managing productivity. This new transparency will make it easier for the public to investigate the relationship between academic and financial data.

WTTW, 8/8/18

CPS spending $10M on Sustainable Schools Pilot Program

Twenty Chicago public elementary and high schools will split $10 million in a new pilot program aimed at connecting school communities with local after-school, health and family engagement services. These schools, which are mainly located on the South and West sides of the city, will each receive $500,000 in district funding for the upcoming school year. CPS said that money will be used to help build supportive classroom environments that work with social support services to strengthen student achievement. Jaribu Lee, a coordinator with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, said the sustainable community schools model is built on six tenets: engaging curriculum, high-quality teaching, wrap-around supports, restorative justice discipline, parent engagement and inclusive school leadership.

New York Times, 8/11/18

Back-to-school shopping for districts: Armed guards, cameras and metal detectors

Fortified by fences and patrolled by more armed personnel, schools will open their doors to students for the start of the new year with a heightened focus on security intended to ease fears about deadly campus shootings… In Florida, armed guards will be posted on almost every campus. In Indiana, some schools will be getting hand-held metal detectors. In Western New York, some schools plan to upgrade their surveillance cameras to include facial recognition… Six months after the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, public schools have embraced expensive and sometimes controversial safety measures. For more detail on how Districts in Florida are working to fund the additional security resources, see Florida schools struggle to meet security rule’.

Education Week, 8/8/18

Just one district seeks ESSA’s weighted student funding pilot for 2019-20

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other school choice fans were excited about the potential of a new pilot program in ESSA that allows districts to combine federal, state, and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. English-language learners, children in poverty, and students in special education—who cost more to educate—would carry with them more money than other students… So far, though, there haven’t been many takers. The law allows up to 50 districts to participate in the first few years of the pilot, with the possibility of more joining in down the road if things are running smoothly. But only one district—Arizona’s Roosevelt School District #66—has applied to use the flexibility in the 2019-20 school year by a July 15 deadline.

AZ Central, 8/6/18

Schools serving Navajo Nation, strapped for resources to transport kids long distances, hope for bus money

The bus service is a lifeline districts in and around the reservation struggle to pay for every year as they grapple with heavy costs associated with the long, often mountainous drives and a long history of cuts in education funding by the state. Gov. Doug Ducey announced in June that, using $38 million from a legal settlement, he would buy 281 buses across the state for low-income schools. The money would replace vehicles that have more than 100,000 miles on them or are more than 15 years old in districts where more than 60 percent or more students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

SBNation, 7/31/18

How LeBron James’ new public school really is the first of its kind

James’ I Promise School opened Monday to serve low-income and at-risk students in his hometown.  I Promise will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and greater access to the school, its facilities, and its teachers during down time for students. That’s a formula aimed at replicating some of the at-home support children may be missing when it comes to schoolwork. I Promise is a regular public school, not a charter or a voucher-receiving private school.  Per the state of Ohio, Akron’s schools were given just $10,028 in state and local funds per student in 2016 — more than the statewide average, but still a relatively low figure for a city of a little under 200,000.  Ten thousand dollars per student can’t cover those services, but the buy-in from the LeBron James Family Foundation can.

Reuters, 7/11/18

Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion: report

About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school, the World Bank said. If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion, according to the report. Other positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls include a reduction in child marriage, lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth, and reduced child mortality and malnutrition, the World Bank said.

Chalkbeat, 7/6/18

CPS to spend $1 billion on campus improvements, including two new West Side schools

Chicago Public Schools is plunging $1 billion into campus investments, a plan that includes two new West Side schools and two new classical schools, the district announced Friday. The new schools and classical expansion were announced as part of a larger plan to boost capital spending from a meager $189 million for the new school year to nearly $1 billion—though it appears some projects listed as part of the $1 billion spend will be spread across several years. The list of improvements includes several items, such as capital costs related to the introduction of universal pre-kindergarten. To foot the nearly $1 billion bill, the district will largely rely on borrowing. CPS anticipates selling $313 million of general obligation bonds and up to $125 million of Capital Improvement Tax bonds; the remaining $300 million will get financed at a later date as expenditures roll in.

USED, 7/2/18

Puerto Rico to pilot new student-centered funding system

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Puerto Rico Department of Education will be the first to pilot new flexibility under ESSA to create a student-centered funding system. ESSA provides for 50 school districts to pilot a new student-centered funding system that combines local, state and federal dollars. ESSA specifically requires that pilot districts allocate substantially more funding to support students from low-income families, English learners, and any other educationally disadvantaged group as chosen by the school district. Puerto Rico designed its system to allocate additional funds to support students from low-income families, language learners and students in rural schools.