Capital School District Loses $330,000 In Title I Funding

David Paulk, with the Dover Post, wrote an article in their newspaper today about how Capital School District is adjusting to the enormous $330,000 in Title I funding cuts.  The article, which does not appear on their online edition, states:

Capital School District officials are dealing with a significant cut in Title IA funding.  The cuts, highlighted in the preliminary budget in June, surprised some educators.

That is a huge amount of money in cuts, and it will affect a great deal of students.  What is the reason for this drastic cut?  It is NOT due to parent opt-outs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It has to do with the poverty rates set up by the United States Department of Education.  According to DOE spokesperson Alison May in the article:

“The change is mainly due to the starting allocations the districts receive for the geographic districts from the United States Department of Education, which is based on their area poverty rate,” May said. “In other words, Capital saw such a big difference because it had a lower poverty rate this year so it received fewer funds accordingly.”

I reached out to May to get more information about why Capital lost so much and if other districts were affected.  She clarified that Caesar Rodney lost a little bit as well, which the article suggested:

Capital’s allocation this year is down about $343,000; Caesar Rodney’s is down about $48,000 from last year.  Capital’s this year: $3,057,381; CR’s this year: $2,496,552. Will have to check on if any other districts had changes and get back to you on that as I don’t have those figures myself.

I checked on the Delaware DOE profiles section of their website, and statewide, low-income numbers for the state went from 37.8% in FY2014 to 35% in FY2015 which somewhat correlates to Capital’s over 10% in funding cuts.  When I looked at their specific low-income numbers, they went from 52.5% in FY14 to 48.6% in FY15.  For their enrollment figures overall, Capital went from 6,526 in FY13 to 6,695.

So what is going on in Capital?  By looking at their enrollment figures by grade from one year to the next, Capital lost a ton of students at the high school level.  In FY14, they had 601 students in 9th grade.  In FY15, they lost 157 students, cause their low-income rate to drop from 52.6% to 40.3% for those two school years.  It is customary that some students will choice out of district and go to other districts or charter schools in the area.  But there are only two charter high schools in Kent County, Positive Outcomes and Early College High School.

Positive Outcomes has been around for almost twenty years, and they have a fixed amount of seats available.  They also start in 7th grade, and most students tend to finish there once they get into high school.  But Early College High School just opened last fall, so this could account for a massive change in numbers.  Oddly enough, Capital’s special education numbers for students with disabilities from 9th grade to 10th grade went from 23.3% in FY14 to 17.9% for FY15, which is a massive change as well.  The DOE website does not show Early College High School’s enrollment figures on their website in the school profiles section.  However, their September 30th count report, which I posted last November, shows 126 students enrolled at Early College High School in 9th grade last year.  But, Early College High School shows only 9th grade for FY15, and Capital actually increased in student enrollment for 8th graders in FY14 of 475 students to 640 9th graders in FY15.  This can definitely be impacted by Campus Community School only going to 8th grade..

Title I funding is a tricky beast as I am now learning.  What could be happening is Early College High School is getting a lot of Title I students from both Capital and Campus Community while Capital retains more non Title I students.  Holy Cross, a Catholic school in Dover, only goes to 8th grade as well.  Holy Cross is tuition-based, so I would tend to doubt there would be that many Title I students in their enrollment.  Poly-tech actually lost a great deal of low-income students as well.  If anyone else can figure this out, let me know!