Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Janssen wants to give poor middle, high schools slices of Title I pie

Donna Logan, Bear Creek Elementary's reading coach this year, says "there is a certain amount of worry" about the possible funding shift. Then again, some middle and high school principals are thrilled.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Donna Logan, Bear Creek Elementary's reading coach this year, says "there is a certain amount of worry" about the possible funding shift. Then again, some middle and high school principals are thrilled.

With the district's budget in a historically tight squeeze, Pinellas schools superintendent Julie Janssen plans to pump millions of dollars into struggling middle and high schools.

The only problem, some say, is that the money will be pumped out of struggling elementary schools.

"There's no way we can not feel the effects of this budget cut. I'm not Houdini," said Lisa Roth, the principal at Belcher Elementary, which stands to lose about $350,000 in personnel and services. "The challenge is for it to be as painless as possible."

At issue is money from the federal Title I program, which sends tens of millions of dollars to high-poverty schools every year.

For years, Pinellas has used that money for elementary schools alone, thinking that investments in earlier grades will pay dividends later. But now Janssen plans to give slices of the Title I pie to some middle and high schools, which as a whole perform worse than elementary schools on the FCAT and in school grades.

Under Janssen's plan, the number of high-poverty schools dividing the money will grow from 48 this year to 68 next year. That includes nine high schools and 13 middle schools.

The big whammy is this: The district has used the money to pay for four positions at each Title I school: a reading coach, a math/science coach, a Title I facilitator and an "intervention" teacher who worked in small groups or one on one with struggling students. It then divvied up the rest of the money among all the Title I schools.

Under Janssen's plan, the district will no longer pay for those positions "off the top." If schools want to keep those positions, they'll have to dip into their Title I money, find other money, or work out arrangements with other Title I schools, such as co-funding and sharing some of those positions.

"I can probably hold one of the four," said Paula Texel, principal at Bear Creek Elementary in St. Petersburg.

The school got $215,000 in Title I money last year, on top of the four positions. Next year it's slated to get $177,000 — without the four.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Bear Creek kids eligible for free and reduced lunch is expected to rise, from 81 to 84 percent.

"I'm concerned I won't be able to provide my kids with everything they need," Texel said. "It's just going to take some creativity."

Schools have until May 7 to submit plans for next year's funding. Technically, the School Board must still okay the overall plan, but several principals said the change was presented to them as a done deal, not a proposal.

In announcing the plan, Janssen said dollars are growing scarce and schools must better scrutinize programs to see what's working and what's not. School Board chairwoman Janet Clark agreed.

"We probably have a lot of places in Title I that money is not being spent wisely," she said. "I think we really need to take a close look at all the different programs (and) who we're funding."

Gleeful, stoic, worried

Some middle and high school principals are giddy about the possibilities.

Mary Conage, the district's Title I director, anticipates they'll be using their newfound money for things like longer school days and extra teachers.

Gibbs High is slated to get $797,000 next year, more than any other school. Principal Kevin Gordon said he plans to use the bulk of that money to hire 10 or more teachers who can work with struggling students in small groups.

"We're going to be able to drill down and do more individualized instruction for the kids," he said.

The mood is less upbeat at some elementary schools.

At Belcher, some of the Title I-funded staffers cried when the principal broke the news. At other schools, they were stoic.

"There is a certain amount of worry," said Bear Creek reading coach Donna Logan, who will return to the classroom next year and try to do some coaching on the side. But "we just have to utilize the resources the best we can."

Although the Title I changes will lead to lost positions, it's widely assumed that most if not all of the people filling them will land positions elsewhere in the district.

But concerns go beyond personnel. Some worry that the district is hurting itself in the long run.

"The greatest need is at the elementary schools. Early intervention," said School Board member Mary Brown. "I feel that if we are doing a good job there, then we won't continue to feed children into the system who aren't on grade level."

Board members Linda Lerner and Nina Hayden appear to be leaning in favor of Janssen's proposal, but say they need to see more details. The board will take a closer look at the plan at a May workshop before voting on it.

Schools won't be holding their breath.

"We'll deal with it," said Roth, the principal at Belcher. "I don't have an alternative."

Times researcher Connie Humburg and staff writer Rebecca Catalanello contributed to this report. Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Title I gains and losses

Here's how much elementary schools would get — and lose — in Title I money for the 2010-2011 school year, as well as how much middle and high schools would get for the first time. Traditionally, the district has used Title 1 money to pay "off the top" for four positions at each Title I elementary school, including reading and math coaches. It then divvied up the rest of the money among those schools. Under the proposed plan, if schools want to keep those positions, they'll have to dip into their allocation listed below, find other money, or work out arrangements with other schools, such as co-funding and sharing some of those positions.

Elementary Schools 2009-10 2010-11 Difference
Azalea $137,240
Bardmoor $181,480 $174,329 -$7,151
Bear Creek $214,760 $176,678 -$38,082
Belcher $206,440 $142,575 -$63,865
Belleair $244,400 $308,391 $63,991
Blanton $228,280 $212,860 -$15,420
Campbell Park $254,800 $294,793 $39,993
Cross Bayou $124,550 $120,723 -$3,827
Doug Jamerson $193,440 $182,787 -$10,653
Dunedin $208,000 $255,619 $47,619
Eisenhower $307,840 $321,988 $14,148
Fairmount Park $297,540 $290,986 -$6,554
Frontier $188,000 $154,039 -$33,961
Fuguitt $158,390 $123,589 -$34,801
Gulfport $187,720 $237,294 $49,574
High Point $266,240 $296,425 $30,185
Imagine Charter $74,730 $109,483 $34,753
James Sanderlin $198,120 $170,099 -$28,021
John Sexton $255,840 $226,016 -$29,824
Lakewood $238,160 $276,301 $38,141
Lealman $195,520 $212,121 $16,601
Life Force Arts $42,968
Lynch $197,080 $207,691 $10,611
Maximo $246,480 $329,603 $83,123
Melrose $178,880 $203,962 $25,082
Mildred Helms $211,120 $238,704 $27,584
MK Rawlings $181,420 $207,221 $25,801
Mt. Vernon $176,280 $188,426 $12,146
New Heights $225,680 $254,210 $28,530
North Shore $124,550 $142,846 $18,296
Northwest $241,280 $216,149 -$25,131
Pinellas Central $208,000 $203,461 -$4,539
Pinellas Park $262,600 $254,210 -$8,390
Ponce de Leon $243,360 $224,607 -$18,753
San Jose $111,390 $93,498 -$17,892
Sandy Lane $289,560 $287,179 -$2,381
Sawgrass Lake $165,910 $157,620 -$8,290
Seminole $161,210 $132,544 -$28,666
Seventy-Fourth Street $215,800 $180,574 -$35,226
Shore Acres $141,470
Skycrest $270,400 $282,873 $12,473
Skyview $190,320 $179,967 -$10,353
Southern Oak $177,840 $148,665 -$29,175
Starkey $153,220 $144,008 -$9,212
Tarpon Springs $168,480 $205,812 $37,332
Walsingham $215,800 $180,907 -$34,893
Westgate $211,640 $212,860 $1,220
Woodlawn $238,680 $254,545 $15,865

Middle & High Schools 2010-11
Azalea Middle $411,623
Bay Point Middle $244,097
Boca Ciega High $586,422
Clearwater High $559,027
Clearwater Intermediate $145,196
Dixie Hollins High $501,337
Dunedin Middle $243,484
Fitzgerald Middle $253,285
Gibbs High $797,357
Imagine Charter Middle $8,269
John Hopkins Middle $342,079
Lakewood High $661,382
Largo High $325,258
Largo Middle $207,344
Lealman Intermediate $146,605
Meadowlawn Middle $217,451
Northeast High $559,027
Pinellas Park High $560,652
Pinellas Park Middle $320,547
Pinellas Secondary Middle $63,435
St. Petersburg High $630,125
Tyrone Middle $286,632

Janssen wants to give poor middle, high schools slices of Title I pie 04/24/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 24, 2010 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After Irma disruption, Miami eager to face Toledo

    College

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Like thousands of other evacuees, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz headed north to escape Hurricane Irma with his family, two suitcases and the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to everything he left behind.

    Miami coach Mark Richt watches during a victory over B-CU in the Sept. 2 opener. The Hurricanes haven’t played since.
  2. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  3. Pinellas votes 7-0 to help sue Legislature over new law favoring charter schools

    K12

    LARGO — They said they had no choice but to do it. They said they would rather reach a compromise.

    Gov. Rick Scott, right, kicks off the 2017 legislative session on March 7 in Tallahassee. Scott later signed a massive education bill that is being challenged by several school districts. On Tuesday, Pinellas became one of them. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Deputies find 24 dogs, 2 birds, 2 cats, 1 child in Hernando home

    Public Safety

    SPRING HILL —A woman was arrested Monday on charges of animal cruelty after deputies said they found injured animals at her Spring Hill home.

    Jennie Card, 44, was arrested on two counts of animal cruelty after deputies said they found her injured animals at her Spring Hill residence.[Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]