California’s Title I share to drop $100 million next year

California's Title I, Part A appropriation will dip by $100 million next year, state officials reported Tuesday, following release this week of the final allocations from the U.S. Department of Education.

That is, California will receive slightly more than $1.62 billion for the coming school year - down about 6 percent from $1.72 billion last year.

The budget agreement struck between the Obama administration and Congressional leaders earlier this spring generally protected the major federal education programs. But the Title I money is based on census demographics, which can sometimes swing significantly year to year.

A centerpiece of federal education support, Title I, Part A dollars provide assistance to local educational agencies with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

The total allocation for next year is $14.5 billion nationally, which is disbursed among more than 50,000 school sites.

These dollars are separate from $1 billion in Title I money Congress provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Officials at the California Department of Education said they are still compiling the appropriation data by district, although preliminary analysis shows there are some districts that might lose as much as 10 percent from what was provided last year.

Los Angeles Unified, for instance, appears to be in line to lose as much as $40 million next year, according to a preliminary analysis, with their allocation dropping from $407 million to $366 million.

San Diego and Long Beach would also receive similar reductions - going from $50.2 million and $41.3 million respectively to $45.2 million and $37.2 million.

Officials cautioned, however, that district numbers could still change somewhat as a variety of factors are reviewed and included.

There is also a federal hold-harmless' rule that provides that districts receive no less than 85 percent to 95 percent of the previous year's allocation to prevent too sudden a drop in services.

The drop in Title I funding is somewhat of a surprise to state officials, especially given the magnitude of the impact on California by the national recession over the past three years. One key measure, for instance, the number of free and reduced price meals has sky rocketed since 2008.

But federal officials explained that they used 2009 estimates from the U.S. Census on the number of children between the ages of five and 17 and from a low-income family. Those figures were combined with estimates of the total school-age population and the total resident population for each LEA.

In addition to the 2009 Census data, other allocation factors were included in the analysis: state per-pupil expenditure data from the 2008-09 school year; the October 2010 caseload data on the number of children in locally operated neglected or delinquent institutions, foster homes, and families above poverty receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and expenditure data used to calculate the equity factor in the Education Finance Incentive Grant program.

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