Saturday, January 02, 2010

Where is the Stimulus Money for RSD Students?

A recent T-P article raised questions about the shortage of teachers and services in RSD's schools. RSD maintains it has a sufficient amount of teachers, but I can vouch from my ongoing interaction with RSD on behalf of my clients -- or lack thereof to be more precise -- that not only are there not enough staff available, but that RSD is standing firm its resolve to not provide staffing and services that even Stevie Wonder could see is needed.

In that Dec. 26th article, RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas said:
"We actually have not downsized staff as much as some of our budget and finance people would have liked," he said. The district had a pot of one-time federal recovery money three years ago that is now largely gone. [T-P, 12/26/09]
Funding shouldn't be the main barrier because in July 2009, the state enthusiastically announced the dedication of stimulus funds to servicing at-risk students:

The flow-through funding that will be dispersed to Louisiana through stimulus funds over the next two years almost doubles the funding that districts would have received for at-risk students. This funding represents a significant increase for local districts, and I know we are all eager to see that we take full advantage of this opportunity.”

In addition to the recommendations developed by the Tiger Team, the Department has also developed an Accountability Document, which it will utilize to track the use of ARRA funds in each district. Each district’s Accountability Document will be updated and published by the Department on a quarterly basis.[LA Division of Administration press release, 7/7/2009]

In fact, teams of local school superintendents, called Tiger Teams and tasked with compiling the state’s blueprint for the effective use of stimulus funds, stated at the time:

Our state will receive almost double the regular federal allocations through ARRA. More than 372 million dollars will flow through to districts to help improve student achievement, statewide. [Tiger Team Recommendations]
Those recommendations also said: something, something, "Recruit and retain teachers," something, something, whatever.I'm paraphrasing, of course. Hey, Mr. Vallas, would you mind checking your notes and getting back to us with another excuse? Here, I'll even help. Look in the file labeled: "Meetings, Tiger Team."

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