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Chat: Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010, 2 p.m. Eastern time
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 Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report(02/16/2010) 
12:57
Edweek Producer: Jennifer: 
Today's chat, "Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report," sponsored by Carnegie Learning, is open for questions. Please start submitting them now.

The chat will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 12:57 Edweek Producer: Jennifer
2:00
Michele McNeil: 
Hi everyone. Welcome to today's chat on the stimulus package, which is almost a year old now. I'm Michele McNeil, a reporter here at Education Week. To talk about how the nearly $100 billion in education aid is working in local districts, we have two experts with us. Charlotte Vann is from Conway Public Schools in Arkansas. And Charlene Green is from Clark County Schools in Las Vegas. First, I'd like them to briefly introduce themselves. Charlotte, why don't you go first?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:00 Michele McNeil
2:01
Charlotte Vann: 
Thank you, Michele. My role here is as the administrator of Director of SPED and Federal Programs .... which has proven to be a very busy role this year with the receipt of the ARRA funds.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:01 Charlotte Vann
2:01
Michele McNeil: 
Thank you and welcome. Charlene?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:01 Michele McNeil
2:02
Charlene Green: 
Charlene Green. Deputy Superintendent. Student Support Services. I am responsible for all federal programs.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:02 Charlene Green
2:02
Michele McNeil: 
Let's dive right into our questions. Becca asks a great one to get the conversation going. Charlotte, why don't you take a first crack at her question.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:02 Michele McNeil
2:02
[Comment From BeccaBecca: ] 
What measures has your district taken to build sustainability for programs run through limited federal funding streams? Do you anticipate a smooth transition when federal dollars expire?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:02 Becca
2:05
Michele McNeil: 
Charlene, what about in Clark County? How will you be able to sustain the programs you've invested stimulus money in?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:05 Michele McNeil
2:05
Charlene Green: 
Becca, We chose projects that will allow for sustainability after the monies expire. For example, online credit retrieval was purchased for all high schools. They now own the licenses and can use it for every student for life. There was a lot of transparency and the high schools know that they are responsible for the $1000 a year upgrades. Another example is the purchase of assistive technology.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:05 Charlene Green
2:07
Michele McNeil: 
Becca also asks an overarching question that a lot of folks probably have. Charlene and Charlotte -- I'd like to get both of your thoughts on this.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:07 Michele McNeil
2:07
[Comment From BeccaBecca: ] 
What has been the largest impact of federal stimulus funding for your district? How has the district maximized the additional resources for students?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:07 Becca
2:09
Charlotte Vann: 
Becca, One of the largest imacts for us has been our ability to provide extensive Professional Development ...which also leads to sustainibilty....and allows us to impact students today and tomorrow.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:09 Charlotte Vann
2:10
Charlene Green: 
Becca, the largest impact of federal stimulus money for CCSD has been on improving student achievement. We purposefully focused on the student and what was missing due to lack of funds. This included literacy interventions, dropout prevention programs, possitive behavior supports, RTI, extending the school year, lowering class sizes, etc.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:10 Charlene Green
2:10
Michele McNeil: 
And this question seems particularly relevant for Clark County, which I know has a lot of ELLs. Charlene, can you take Mary Ann's question?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:10 Michele McNeil
2:10
[Comment From Mary Ann ZehrMary Ann Zehr: ] 
Examples of school districts targeting stimulus funds to benefit English-language learners have been few and far between. Have your school districts spent some of the stimulus funds on this group of students and if so, how?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:10 Mary Ann Zehr
2:11
Charlene Green: 
Mary Ann, while there was no direct funding for the ELL population, we made sure that the programs and services that we chose included opportunities for all students.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:11 Charlene Green
2:11
Michele McNeil: 
And Charlotte, do you want to take a stab at Camila's question?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:11 Michele McNeil
2:11
[Comment From Camila MoralesCamila Morales: ] 
Can you explain how the stimulus money for education was broken down? Which areas received the most funding? Which areas received the least funding?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:11 Camila Morales
2:13
Charlotte Vann: 
Camila, As the money flowed to the state level, the state had discretion to take a certain amount, and then the local schools received their portion. In our case, the largest amount of funding went into the SFS funds, followed by IDEA and then Ttile I. Depending on the status of your district (e.g. poverty level, etc.) you may have been eligible for add'l funds ...e.g. technology, kitchen equipment, etc.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:13 Charlotte Vann
2:13
Michele McNeil: 
Charlene, can you explain how things worked in Clark County, in response to Susie's question?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:13 Michele McNeil
2:14
[Comment From SusieSusie: ] 
How did you determine how to spend money in individual schools. Did each school get a proportional amount or did you use a system to determine need in a different way?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:14 Susie
2:14
Michele McNeil: 
Charlotte, I'd like to know how things worked in Conway, too, if you could also share your thoughts on Susie's question.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:14 Michele McNeil
2:15
Charlene Green: 
Mary Ann, the state flow through did not come to the district. Title I received the majority of the funding. IDEA received the second largest amount.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:15 Charlene Green
2:16
Charlotte Vann: 
Susie, We did a number of things to make good decision :.staff surveys, parent meetings, community meetings, administrative input, etc. Remembering, of course, that the same rules and regs apply to ARRA funds for Title I and SPED as they do for your regular fiscal allotment.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:16 Charlotte Vann
2:18
Charlene Green: 
Susie, individaul schools decided how to use their ARRA money based on their needs within the regs. However, larger, district-wide projects were based on expansion of current successful practices.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:18 Charlene Green
2:18
Michele McNeil: 
Charlotte: a question about technology for you, from Kathleen.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:18 Michele McNeil
2:18
[Comment From KathleenKathleen: ] 
Has the stimulus helped you to expand your investment in classroom technology or to try more innovative approaches to instruction? How?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:18 Kathleen
2:20
Michele McNeil: 
In Clark County, Charlene, was technology a big focus for your ARRA money?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:20 Michele McNeil
2:21
Charlene Green: 
Kathleen, we did not invest in technology hardware. However, we invested in instructional software. We did not allow the new Title I ARRA schools to purchase hardware in the event that they lose their designation after the ARRA funding is gone. Again, sustainability was a priority for every decision and every purchase.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:21 Charlene Green
2:22
Charlotte Vann: 
Kathleen, the stimulus funds have definitely helped expand our classroom technology. We have been able to invest in classroom laptop labs, sound field systems, classroom response systems, document cameras, smart boards, etc. on a larger scale than we would have been able to otherwise. Our inclusion classes (1 reg ed teacher / 1 SPED teacher) have been particularly fortunate to receive equipment. They can do so much to modify and accomodate the learning styles for each student ...much easier to differentiate instruction with more tools!
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:22 Charlotte Vann
2:22
Michele McNeil: 
I want to pose Jason V.'s question to both of you -- and I'd like to expand it beyond homeschooling. Did stimulus pay for things beyond the traditional school building? Like parental education? Or health services? Things like that?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:22 Michele McNeil
2:23
[Comment From Jason V.Jason V.: ] 
Is / How is stimulus funding being used to support non-school based educational alternatives, i.e. homeschooling?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:23 Jason V.
2:25
Charlene Green: 
Jason, our state provides a process for homeschooling. ARRA funding was distributed to private and charter schools as is all other federal funding.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:25 Charlene Green
2:25
Charlotte Vann: 
Jason, We meet with private school/homeschool representatives to develop plans of how to use their portion of Title I and IDEA ARRA funds. Both fund sources have allowed for parent involvement activities, materials, supplies, and professional development activities.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:25 Charlotte Vann
2:25
Michele McNeil: 
Speaking of how you spent your ARRA funds, Shirley would like to know if you spent any of it on career and technical education. Charlene and Charlotte: did any funds go for this area?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:25 Michele McNeil
2:25
[Comment From Shirley FleischmanShirley Fleischman: ] 
What are you doing to bring more Career and Technical Education to your schools?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:25 Shirley Fleischman
2:28
Charlene Green: 
Shirley, we did allocate ARRA funds for school to work transition. In addition to all of our comprehensive high schools, we have Career and Technical Academies that students can attend. We have 6 new Career and Technical Academies that are comprehensive in nature but also offer Career and Technical Education. They received programs and services that all of the other high schools received through the ARRA funding.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:28 Charlene Green
2:28
Charlotte Vann: 
Shirley, We have a career/technical/vocational center housed on one of our high school campuses ....and based on their input at the time of the development of our plan, their budget was adequate for the next biennial period, thus they did not ask for additional ARRA funds. As a side note, we have expanded the program into neighboring rural districts and have had great response from those communities and the local industries.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:28 Charlotte Vann
2:29
Michele McNeil: 
Stacey has a thought-provoking question that a lot of school districts and states are asking themselves. I'd like to get both your thoughts on this issue of local control.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:29 Michele McNeil
2:29
[Comment From StaceyStacey: ] 
Is anybody concerned that accepting stimulus money also means accepting more FEDERAL control over LOCAL schools?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:29 Stacey
2:31
Charlene Green: 
Stacey, we have always had federal control because of federal funding. Title I, IDEA, and now, ARRA. Arra is just an extension of what we have been doing all along. We make sure that we are transparent with all federal funding. Usually, with external funding, be it federal or otherwise, there are always rules and regulations.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:31 Charlene Green
2:31
Charlotte Vann: 
Stacey, To date, we have not viewed the acceptance of these funds as additional federal control ...since the rules and regulations for how they could be spent remained the same as previous federal allotment requirements. We have been more challenged by the paperwork/accounting processes to ensure transparency in reporting, using the on-line reporting format, etc.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:31 Charlotte Vann
2:32
Michele McNeil: 
L. Maxwell has a question along those same lines. Charlotte, can you take a crack at this too?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:32 Michele McNeil
2:32
[Comment From L. MaxwellL. Maxwell: ] 
As frontline district leaders, do you believe that the Ed. Dept.'s priorities and reform approaches within Race to the Top, and the stimulus-funded school improvement grants are the right reform priorities for your school systems? If so, why? If not, then why not?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:32 L. Maxwell
2:33
Michele McNeil: 
Charlene, while Charlotte is tackling that question, Douglas has a follow-up question for you about technology.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:33 Michele McNeil
2:33
[Comment From DouglasDouglas: ] 
Can we go back to the ARRA Title I eligibility comment Charlenee made about technology? I don't understand what she means. Why would a school lose eligibility after purchasing hardware?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:33 Douglas
2:34
Charlotte Vann: 
L., From what I have learned about RTTP, I would say that the reform priorities will be much in line with what our district will have to consider if (or should I say when) we adopt national standards and curriculum.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:34 Charlotte Vann
2:35
Charlene Green: 
L. to tell the truth, I wish that the feds would provide the funding, hold us accountable, and let the district utilize the funding to meet the needs of kids without being prescriptive. Most educators believe that some of what is being required has been tried and has not always worked.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:35 Charlene Green
2:36
Michele McNeil: 
While Charlene is clarifying Douglas' question on Title I, Charlotte, why don't you tackle this question from Janet G., or Guest.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:36 Michele McNeil
2:36
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Has there been any spending to lower back-office costs? This would be for "longer lasting" savings (such as automation of paper processing or filing, for instance)
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:36 Guest
2:38
Charlene Green: 
Douglas, we added 68 new Title I schools for these 2 years. If any of these schools do not remain on the Title I list once the ARRA funding is gone, then they will no longer be considered a Title I school and all equipment purchased with Title I money would have to be moved to a remaining Title I school.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:38 Charlene Green
2:38
Charlotte Vann: 
Janet I am aware of some districts that have utilized some of their funds for purposes such as creating a data keeping or tracking system ...which is allowable.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:38 Charlotte Vann
2:39
Michele McNeil: 
Caroline wants to follow up on L's question. Charlene, can you take this one?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:39 Michele McNeil
2:39
[Comment From CarolineCaroline: ] 
Following up on L's question, do you expect the large infusion of stimulus money for turning around low-performing schools to pay off in profound improvements in student learning?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:39 Caroline
2:40
Charlene Green: 
Guest, we have mnot done anything to assist with back-office costs. However, we are utilizing ARRA funding to build a new RTI data management system that will save staff time and resources with data storage and access.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:40 Charlene Green
2:41
Michele McNeil: 
Charlotte, can you answer Douglas' question here?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:41 Michele McNeil
2:41
[Comment From DouglasDouglas: ] 
How heavily would you weight the influence of strong technology and online learning proposals in school districts' efforts to win money from the government? Where are some strong student-centric tech proposals in today's RTTT?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:41 Douglas
2:42
Charlene Green: 
Caroline, our portion of the turnaround funding over a 3 year period of time is minimal. Out of the 7 schools in Tier 1, four of them are high schools. The funding to turn around a high school of approx. 3000 students will not go very far.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:42 Charlene Green
2:43
Michele McNeil: 
Charlene, Douglas wants to continue the conversation about technology, if you can take this question.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:43 Michele McNeil
2:43
[Comment From DouglasDouglas: ] 
Sorry if my questions seem burdensome, but for more clarity, do you think that adding technology would enable better performance in the schools, thereby leading to the obsolescence of the Title I moniker? And if that is true, is that a bad thing? Shouldn't schools increase performance and excellence? Maybe I misunderstand.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:43 Douglas
2:45
Charlotte Vann: 
Douglas, It appears from the information about STEM initiatives, that technology based proposals will be expected and awarded. I have heard discussions about a range of activities ...from student based projects rather than traditional exams, to distance learning opportunities, to smart tables, etc.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:45 Charlotte Vann
2:46
Michele McNeil: 
Alicia has a great question for both of you, when you're ready.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:46 Michele McNeil
2:46
[Comment From AliciaAlicia: ] 
When allocating limited stimulus funding, on which should districts place more attention, measures to improve low-performing schools or measures to sustain well-performing schools?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:46 Alicia
2:47
Charlene Green: 
Douglas, as of today, the State of Nevada is not eligible to apply for RTTT. However, we strongly believe that technology and online learning proposals are critical to meeting the diverse needs of today's students. This is evident in many of our ARRA projects as expansion on supplemental instructional technology programs, on-line credit retrieval, assistive technology, RTI data management Systems. Because Clark County is a district with a great number of new schools, the technology standards are high and we have a systemic replacement program in place.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:47 Charlene Green
2:50
Charlene Green: 
Alicia, I belive that you have to create a balance and look at both angles. Qhile we look a tthe low performing students, it is equally important to look at your gifted student who needs to be challenged. The goal is to shrink the achievement gap...not lower the achievement standard for ALL kids.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:50 Charlene Green
2:50
Charlotte Vann: 
Alicia, Clearly, the Title I funds are directed at low performing schools...but, our opinion is that we can affect the performance of ALL schools by using our funds to provide parent training and professional development opporunities for staff about strategies that will ultimaeley improve learning opportunities for all students. Students and staff are transient, so we are trying to stretch our efforts into job embedded skills that are lead to improved instruction.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:50 Charlotte Vann
2:50
Michele McNeil: 
There's one pot of stimulus money we haven't talked about yet that pertains specifically to districts -- the Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants. A quick question from me: Do either of your districts plan to apply for this money?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:50 Michele McNeil
2:51
Charlotte Vann: 
Michele, I am not aware of our participation at this point.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:51 Charlotte Vann
2:51
Charlene Green: 
Michele, Clark County is applying for the i3 grant.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:51 Charlene Green
2:52
Michele McNeil: 
Charlene: In a broad sense, can you give us an idea of what areas you might want to target this money?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:52 Michele McNeil
2:54
Charlene Green: 
Michele, we are looking to expand the practices aligned with Empowerment. Clark County has created Empowerment Schools where the principals and the community make all of the decisions.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:54 Charlene Green
2:54
Michele McNeil: 
Thanks, Charlene. We are almost out of time, so before I ask for parting thoughts from our guests, SJC has a great question to end the Q-and-A portion of our chat. Can both of you answer this?
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:54 Michele McNeil
2:55
[Comment From SJCSJC: ] 
For each guest: What specific thing or program in each of your districts has been most affected by the stimulus? Thanks.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:55 SJC
2:56
Charlene Green: 
SJC, I would say the number of students in the schools that are being directly impacted by the increase of Early Intervening Services that we are able to provide.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:56 Charlene Green
2:57
Charlene Green: 
SJC, also the addition of 68 new ARRA schools is the largest impact of the Title I ARRA funding.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:57 Charlene Green
2:58
Charlotte Vann: 
SJC, My immediate reaction is that teacher morale has been most affected! Whether it was from the pride in their improved facility made possible by renovation funds, having learned new instructional techniques via job embedded PD, acquiring additional technology equipment/materials/supplies, or ultimatley ....enjoying the validation of having impacted students' learning achievement!
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:58 Charlotte Vann
2:59
Michele McNeil: 
And finally, I'd like to ask Charlotte and Charlene if they have any last words -- specifically as we look back at the one-year anniversary of the stimulus, and what challenges remain ahead for local districts.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 2:59 Michele McNeil
3:01
Charlene Green: 
Michele, it is hard to believe that has already been one year. The challenge is determining the effects of the funding and the impact on student achievement. It is difficult to tell after only one year, but we believe that the long-term impact is going to be great.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 3:01 Charlene Green
3:02
Charlotte Vann: 
Michele, The challenges that educators face will continue to be much affected by increased poverty, societal issues, and the need to prepare students in function in a global economy. Thus, we all must be extremely prudent in the decisions that we make ...particularly as it relates to the finances that we have. Thank you for including me today!
Tuesday February 16, 2010 3:02 Charlotte Vann
3:02
Michele McNeil: 
Thank you very much, Charlotte and Charlene, for taking a break from your busy schedules to give us an on-the-ground perspective of how the stimulus package is working in districts, one year into it. Your answers were very insightful. And thanks to all of you who tuned in, and asked questions.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 3:02 Michele McNeil
3:02
Edweek Producer: Jennifer: 
Thanks again to everyone for joining us for today's chat, "Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report," sponsored by Carnegie Learning. A transcript of this chat will be available shortly on this same page.

Make sure to check out EdWeek's on-demand webinar on this same topic, featuring Maura Policelli and Jack Jennings, at www.edweek.org/go/webinars/stimGoals.

And look for other upcoming EdWeek chats at www.edweek.org/go/chats.
Tuesday February 16, 2010 3:02 Edweek Producer: Jennifer
3:02
 

 
 
 

Chat: Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010, 2 p.m. Eastern time

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of the $787 billion stimulus package, of which nearly $100 billion is being spent on education. Two frontline educators discuss and answer questions on how the stimulus funding has affected education so far, and what challenges lie ahead as the federal money begins to run out.

Guests:
Charlotte Vann, federal-program coordinator, Conway Public Schools, Conway, Ark.
Charlene Green, deputy superintendent, Clark County School District, Las Vegas
Michele McNeil, assistant editor, Education Week, moderated this chat.

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