money talks

City to boost funding for 130 struggling and community schools

Mayor Bill de Blasio at lunch with students at P.S. 69 in the Bronx. (Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)

The city will increase spending by about $34 million next year on 130 schools that struggle with low student achievement and attendance, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

In subsequent years, the city will boost funding by $60 million annually for those schools, which are part of the administration’s “Renewal” turnaround program, its “community schools” initiative to offer more social services to students and their families, or were identified by the state as chronically low performing. The money, which comes from a mix of state and city funds, is in addition to extra funding the schools will receive through the Renewal and community schools programs, officials said.

“These new investments will make a real difference: more AP classes, more guidance counselors, extra tutors, and schools open longer,” de Blasio said in a statement Monday. “We have a plan for these schools’ success and we’re going to make sure they have the tools to turn around and raise student achievement.”

The funding infusions will for the first time bring those schools’ budgets to the levels promised by the previous administration when it introduced a new funding formula in 2007 based on student need. The “Fair Student Funding” system is meant to give schools more money based on the number of students they serve who have special needs or are behind academically, but a 2013 report found that 94 percent of schools did not receive the full amount they were owed based on that formula.

With this increase, the 130 schools will now receive 100 percent of the Fair Student Funding they are owed, officials said. For the 94 Renewal schools that are part of that group, that increase will amount to an extra $250,000 per year on average.

In addition, every city school will now receive a minimum of 82 percent of the needs-based funding they are owed, up from the current minimum of 81 percent, the officials said. That change will boost the budgets of roughly 400 schools, they said.

The 130 schools will be required to submit detailed spending plans to their superintendents that show how they will use the extra money to raise attendance levels, student credit-earning, and graduation rates. Possible uses of the money include hiring extra teachers and guidance counselors or offering more advanced courses.

“Lifting up our schools requires real resources,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement, “and that is what we are committed to delivering.”

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.