Because Missouri was granted a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver, the Union School District will have an additional $130,000 of Title 1 funding previously set aside for federal mandates.
Union School Superintendent Steve Bryant said there will be a major impact now that Missouri has been granted relief from the key requirements of the federal law.
Under NCLB, the district has to meet certain performance standards.
In most instances, Bryant said, the district is doing a good job and making gains toward the goals.
However, certain subgroups have failed to meet the annual yearly progress (AYP), which means the district, or individual schools, are marked as “for improvement.”
If any subgroup in a district, such as low-income, minorities and special education students, fail to meet the specific learning targets — even if they still showed gains — the entire school and district is then labeled as failing.
Almost 90 percent of the schools in Missouri were “failing” under those guidelines.
In the Union district, Central Elementary did not meet the AYP and was considered a “building in improvement.”
At the same time, based on the Annual Performance Report (APR), the entire district was honored for having “distinction in performance.”
Being held accountable by two different evaluation methods was not only confusing to schools, but to parents as well, Bryant said.
Because Central Elementary receives federal Title 1 funds, and there’s another school in the district with the same grade levels, Beaufort Elementary, parents could choose to send their student to there instead of Central Elementary.
Under NCLB, the district had to provide transportation to those students, as well as set aside Title 1 funding for supplemental tutoring.
Title 1 schools receive federal funds to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students. Clark-Vitt and Central Elementary both are Title 1 schools in the Union School District.
A total of 27 students took advantage of school choice and 77 participated in tutoring outside the district.
With the waiver, the district will no longer be required to provide transportation, however, Bryant said those who currently attend Beaufort will have the option of staying at the school and providing their own transportation.
The elimination of transporting the students and not setting aside additional funds frees up about $130,000 in funds the district can now use elsewhere. The total allocation of Title 1 funding is about $520,000.
Now, instead of being judged on two accountability systems, the district will be reviewed with Missouri School Improvement Program 5 (MSIP 5), which APR is a part of.
“MSIP 5 will allow us more flexibility and a little more local control based on where our needs are,” Bryant said.
However, since MSIP is a new standard, there are many unknowns.
“We don’t fully know all of the ramifications of the MSIP 5. Our reservation might be some of the unknowns on what expectations there will be as well as other unfunded mandates,” Bryant said.
As the district moves into the MSIP 5 performance standards, it will begin adopting standards to meet the state standards, Bryant said.
“We will be working very diligently within the next year in making that transition,” he said. “We will still be utilizing our grade level expectations, but this will be a move toward a different and new state assessment.”
Missouri is one of the most recent states granted relief from the law. The waiver implements higher academic standards, creates one system accountability, allows flexible spending, continues to focus on school improvements and improves the teacher evaluation system, Bryant said.
When the Missouri waiver was announced, there were 26 states that had been approved for waivers and 33 total that had made requests.