Thursday, January 07, 2010

Updated: Race to the Happy Meal

Tuesday the Board got together for a special public meeting to discuss whether or not to participate in the CT Department od Education's Race To The Top grant application.

The initial information we received was both sketchy and dubious.

I started putting together a FAQ sheet to make sense of the monetary implications of what the State was suggesting. Here's the updated version of that:
Region19 Race to the Top (RaTTT Race) Fact sheet

Region 19 was "invited" participate in the RaTTT Race Connecticut Grant submission. We are being told that if we agree,
"Our District can expect up to $66,000 over the 4 year period for participating should we decide to participate in the grant. The allocation is based on the Title I funding formula."


CT applying for $175M to be spent over Four Years

50% of those funds ($87.5M) get disbursed to participating "Districts" based on the title 1 formula

The RTTT Title 1 fund distribution sheet takes every potential participating district and shows *the maximum* potential Title 1 sum *if all districts participate* AND *the grant is fully funded*.

If all that were true then Region 19 *might* get $66,924 over four years

That means:

$66,000 / 4 years = 16,500/year
Corrected: $66,924 / 4 years = $16,731/year

$16500/year / 1262est. EO students/year = $13.08/yr./student
Corrected: $16,731/year / 1262est. EO students/year = $13.26/yr./student

$4.5B / 50 states = $90M/ state if averaged
Fixed: $4.35B / 50 states = $87M/state - flat average

Note that CT is requesting twice the sum of an evenly distributed grant sum across all states!

$29.5M (CT grant) / $87M avg state grant = $0.327777778/$1 of an avg state grant
$175M (CT grant) / $87M avg state grant = $2/$1 of an even state distribution of funds

The RTTT allocation tables that Region 19 received are based on the grant request sum that is clearly double what one might expect as a dollar for dollar expectation based on evenly distributed funds.

If we adjust the State's estimates to simply reflect that each state may receive a fair share sum then:

Instead of $175M, we'll start with the evenly distributed sum of $87M. And since just 50% of that amount applies to the Title I funding, we are talking about dividing up 43.5 million over four years. That's a little less than $10M.

$29.5M RTTT State grant / 4 years = $7,375,000/year (for all CT schools)

$7,375,000/year / 1658 schools in CT = $4,448.13/year/school
$10M per year / 1658 schools in CT = $6,031 per school

But we'd also have to adjust EO Smith's expected sum from $66K over four years to $33K over four years or $8,250 per year - less than $1 per student.

I must caution everyone that this fact sheet is napkin math until proven otherwise.

But finally, the money in many big cities will be funneled directly into the city to be -cough- dispensed. In other words, it may go toward potholes instead of classrooms.

As you can see, our district has virtually nothing to gain by this formula that is obviously dedicated YET AGAIN to -yawn- close the education gap whatever in hell that means.

So much of the Board discussion concerned whether or not our participation or non-participation would hurt the State, cause retaliatory action against the district, or somehow deny us participation in something bigger than... well, money.

And we had a lively discussion about all of these things and more. In the end the vote was unanmously against getting involved. We will politely decline our participation.

However, the State DOE's proposal is shoddy and quite frankly, disingenuous. Connecticut is probably in good company. I examined some other state's public documents and the Race to the Top more accurately looks like a race of blind people in a muddy mosh pit.

Most states have slapped together a bundle of existing, largely platitudinal existing programs that could use some additional funding.

Thankfully, our State DOE is incompetent enough to put together a proposal that is transparent in its agenda and unsupportable in its legal splendor.

Those who sign up for this death march will have their school budgets plundered by Hartford bureaucrats who should be fired and their Department boarded and turned into an abandoned building. That would signify just how vacant this State's education policies are.

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