The district’s equity policy was originally adopted in 1994. Shortly after, the East Area Success Team came to the Board with a proposal that we adopt a more equitable approach to distributing resources. This became the Equity Resource Allocation formula; it was used, and is still used, to distribute additional resources (supplemental) to the neediest schools at the elementary level. The Board allocated a number of the supplemental positions to support SAGE programming at 16 schools in 2000-01. Since most schools used the supplemental resources to decrease class size this appeared to be a reasonable way to reduce class sizes and gain a bit more in state funding.
Last spring the Northside PTO Coalition, which has been very concerned about the equity policy, put this question before the school board: “If further cuts are required, will you commit to working with the community to try to protect smaller class sizes at the neediest schools, even if that means raising class sizes at schools with lower poverty levels?”
The Board discussion reported in the Capital Times earlier this week was about the questions and issues such an approach raises. My questions are:
How much do we take away from some schools and some programs to maintain resources at other schools?
- Just to clarify, the first step the Task Force on Equity is directed to take is to review the district’s current policy and the equity resource allocation formula.
- Is the income of students to be the overriding criteria in funding discussions?
- Do we end SAGE at those schools with poverty levels significantly below the district average (say less than 30%)?
- Do we take away the .5 supplemental allocated to schools with lower poverty rates?
- How do we handle programs that serve a lower percentage of low-income students?
- Do we eliminate advanced courses at the high school or foreign language at the middle school in order to give additional resources to the secondary schools with the highest proportion of low-income students?
I do not have a ready answer to these questions – but they are ones that the Equity Task Force will discuss in considering their recommendations to the Board. The Equity Task Force was specifically requested by a number of parents and the Northside PTO Coalition.