RSCT Opportunities

The following opportunities are available to Rural Schools Partnership members because of the relationship with the Rural School and Community Trust (RSCT):

  • RSCT has partnered with the Fund for Teachers to offer a professional growth opportunity for teachers. To access the letter explaining this program, click here.
  • The School Fund for Children provides resources for our poorest children of elementary age (districts qualifying have 9 out of 10 students considered poor). Information about the program can be found here. Criteria and nomination information can be accessed in MS Word or PDF.

All of these opportunities are highly competitive, but can help meet the needs of young people as well as provide extraordinary growth experiences for teachers.

Title I Information from RSCT

The information below is provided by Marty Strange from Rural School & Community Trust.  For more information about the Title I calculations, please click here.

The policy part of the Rural School and Community Trust program may be a little difficult for individual districts to relate to, but there are very concrete ways in which our work can be of value to them, as well as ways in which they can add value to that work.  For example, we are engaged in a national “Formula Fairness Campaign”  to bring some justice to rural schools that are systematically discriminated against in the ESEA Title I funding formula.

Let me begin with a simple example of the disparities.  When Education Secretary Duncan visited North Carolina last month to talk about rural education, he visited the Richmond County school district.  Richmond County is a rural, high poverty district (32% poverty rate – not meal rate, but poverty rate).  It received $1,209 per Title I student in the 08-09 school year.  The Charlotte-Mecklenberg district immediately to the west, the largest in the state, with a 16% poverty rate, received $1,398 per pupil.  Chicago, with a 27% poverty rate, received $2,273, over $1,000 more than Richmond.  That’s nothing.  Colchester, Vermont, a Burlington suburb with a mere 7% poverty rate, received $2,546 per Title I student.

These are not aberrations, but systematic failures due to political decisions.  There are several factors in the formula that lead to these results, but the one we are focused on at this time is the use of a mathematical weighting system to inflate the student count for the supposed purpose of sending more funds to high poverty districts.  It’s a perfectly good objective and one we support.

The problem is that the formula, as written, does not really accomplish that objective, especially for high poverty rural districts.  The reason is that two alternative approaches are used to calculate the weights.  One is based on the percentage of students who are poor (percentage weighting), the other on the absolute number (number weighting).  Whichever approach benefits a given district more is the one that is used for that particular district in the final formula.  Since the money available is fixed by congressional appropriation, one district’s gain is always another’s loss.

The rub is that low poverty, large districts gain so much weighted student count from number weighting that they end up taking money away from high poverty small districts whose low volume of students mean they are never better off under the number weighting option.  In two districts with identical percentages of poverty, the larger will always get more per pupil and the smaller less.  I’ve attached a paper that goes into much more explanation for those hearty souls who are interested.  We call this the “number weighting” issue.

I checked the results of a recent Congressional Research Service analysis of the impact of “number weighting” on every district in the nation.  Below are the results of that analysis for the districts you named during roll call introductions this morning (I apologize, but I think I missed one).  As you can see, every district save one lost Title I funding due to number weighting.  Fair Play manages to break even – this year.  For some, the losses were modest.  For others quite significant.  Most Missouri districts lost Title I funding due to number weighting.  Indeed, more than 90% of all districts nationally lost money.  Only a handful of the largest districts, including some low poverty suburban districts, gained funding.