Recently the Superintendent’s Cabinet recommended allocating an additional $600,000, or $50,000 for 12 High Schools, in additional alternative Pathways funding. This will supplement the $65,000 each of 17 High Schools already receives for a total of $115,000 per school.
On the surface, this sounds fair.
Once again, this is an uncreative and poorly thought out recommendation by the Superintendent’s Cabinet. Here’s why:
- There is no accountability for the already allocated $65,000. Some schools have instituted robust alternative pathways programs and use the money for its intended purpose, but others not so much. If there are schools that aren’t putting the current $65k to good use for alternative pathways why are they being rewarded with additional money?
- High Schools are not the same and have different needs. Does Conifer (with less than 800 students, a 75% total matriculation rate and 14% Free and Reduced Lunch rate) have the same alternative pathways needs as Alameda (with 1300 students, 41% matriculation rate and 84% Free and Reduced Lunch) or even Lakewood (with 2100 students) or Columbine (with 1600 students)? The needs of these schools are different and in this case the proposed allocation of additional Alternative Pathways funds is Equal, but it is NOT Equitable!
- The effective reduction in Alternative Pathways funding at the IB and GT Center schools in relation to the other 12 district High Schools does not really make sense. These 5 schools have Alternative Pathways programs that are working. In the case of Wheat Ridge, in addition to the GT Center, they are already spending over $90,000 on several extremely effective Alternative Pathways programs. With an overall matriculation rate of under 62% and a Free and Reduced Lunch population of over 46%, they can certainly use some additional funding. Yet, even with a proven track record, this BFO effectively reduces their Alternative Pathways funding by $50k in relation to schools such as Conifer and Evergreen which have high matriculation rates and low FRL populations. The same can be said with regard to the IB schools. They have excellent IB programs. Does this mean that just because they have a successful program, they couldn’t effectively use additional funding for other students?
I agree that additional Alternative Pathways funding can really make a difference and that it is a good use of funds. However, why not enact a process that ensures the money is really being used for its intended purpose. Make schools report back how that money is being spent and evaluate whether it is being spent for Alternative Pathways that make a difference as intended. Compare the value of those programs among the schools and reward schools that have effective, life-changing programs with more money. In effect, make schools earn the money. Don’t just give it away with no accountability whatsoever.
How about considering these ideas:
- Create competition. Have schools submit Alternative Pathways program proposals. From this competition allocate additional funding for the best of these.
- Allocate $20,000 to all 17 schools and keep the IB and GT Center funding in place.
- Keep the IB and GT Center funding and allocate $50k in additional Alternative Pathways funding to just the 12 schools which have total matriculation rates below 72%, FRL rates above 14% and 4 year matriculation rates below 55%(see spreadsheet).
The Budgeting for Outcomes document states that the goal of this allocation is:
“To increase and bring equity to the SBB Alternative Pathway factor for all district managed neighborhood schools.”
Unfortunately, the uncreative allocation of this funding merely brings equality, NOT equity as is stated in the BFO Explanation. The goal of the District staff should be to Improve Jeffco Schools by effectively and efficiently using taxpayer money, not just give it away in an unaccountable and potentially inefficient manner.
Let’s allocate funds to where they will do the most good and make schools accountable for their use. Reward schools that are innovative and entrepreneurial and are really working for their students. Don’t reward schools that aren’t using these funds for their stated purpose.
Approving this BFO as written is inequitable and sends the wrong message.