Houston schools officials anticipate the district will receive $5.8 million less next school year than expected from a pool of federal tax dollars aimed at educating poor, minority and ESL students.
The Houston Independent School District originally expected to receive $113.8 million in Title I funds for the 2012-13 school year, according to documents provided by district Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett at a trustees meeting last week. Now, the district estimates it will receive more like $108 million.
“The Title I funding is very problematic,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said.
The reductions stem from the way federal and state officials divvy up the pie, with a smaller number of Title I funds available, officials from the Texas Education Agency in Austin said. Texas Watchdog asked TEA to provide specific dollar amounts. The agency did not respond by the deadline to this story, instead pointing via email to a federal government webpage with troves of data.
Houston schools trustees already are grappling with how to reduce a projected budget deficit of $34.7 million during the next academic year.
"It's unprecedented,” said Trustee Harvin Moore. “We have to find a way to close that additional $40 million gap this year. It's very damaging to our efforts to educate children.”
The Texas Legislature reduced state funding to the district by $80 million for the current school year and $120 million for the 2013 school year, he said.
Title I dollars come from the federal government to improve “the academic achievement of the disadvantaged,” according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website. That class of children includes minorities, students with limited English-language skills and those who attend high-poverty schools. About four out of five HISD students are at or below the poverty line.
The Title I reductions could lead to a tighter budget for summer school, Garrett said, though the staff is looking for input and suggestions from the board.
HISD administrators plan to submit a recommended budget to the board next month or in May, Garrett told Texas Watchdog.
Contact Mike Cronin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.
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