Indiana

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Department of Education: We’ll Recheck Title I Decisions

The Indiana Department of Education says they will heed federal advice to take another look at this year’s Title I allocations for state schools.

A handful of Indiana charter school leaders recently voiced concern that their awards for the 2015-16 school year fell well below levels allowed in federal statute while also challenging the IDOE to explain why their neighboring traditional public schools saw funding increases.

The Indiana Charter School Board and two of Indiana’s U.S. representatives echoed these calls, and in response the department requested feedback from their federal counterparts on Indiana’s process for doling out funds to low-income kids.

U.S. Department of Education staff responded via email last Thursday to let state officials know they had been calculating Title I awards incorrectly, advising they take “corrective action” to fix the situation.

IDOE spokesman Daniel Altman told the Indianapolis Business Journal that state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and her colleagues will comply with the feds’ instruction:

“We want every school to be funded equitably,” Altman said. “We’re obviously going to make sure the schools get the money they were supposed to get.”

According to a provision in federal statute called “hold harmless,” no school – charter or traditional public – is supposed to get less than 85 percent of the previous year’s Title I allocation. The feds found that through Indiana’s process, about 47 percent of charter schools were receiving amounts below that allowable threshold. The same was true for less than one percent of the state’s traditional public schools.

Michelle McKeown, interim director for the state’s Charter School Board, says this is a step in the right direction.

“I’m pleased to see that the U.S. Department of Education was wiling to step into this,” McKeown says. “My hope is just that charter schools receive the dollars to which they are entitled.” 

McKeown will participate in a phone call with federal authorities Tuesday morning, along with State Board of Education and IDOE officials, to discuss next steps.

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