News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Study: Title I Money Goes to Instruction

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Less than 10 percent of Title I aid was spent on administrative costs in almost all the school districts examined for a new federal study.

In addition, the report from the General Accounting Office says, most Title I money—at least 84 percent in six districts studied directly by the GAO—was used for activities related to instruction.

Because of concern about district spending on administrative costs, Congress in the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 issued two separate mandates to examine expenditures under Title I, the main federal program for disadvantaged K-12 students.

The GAO, Congress' investigative arm, collected data through two means: an examination of five existing studies related to Title I, and its own review of Title I spending in the six districts.

In the five studies, district spending for administrative costs varied from 4 percent to 10 percent. Of the half-dozen districts the GAO reviewed, only one—the 141,000-student San Diego public schools—spent more than 10 percent on administrative expenses. For that district, the figure was 13 percent. One other district, the 2,900-student Portsmouth schools in Rhode Island, spent zero. That district used local money for those costs.

The GAO report includes a caveat, saying Congress did not clearly define "administrative" expenses in the federal law. In the current fiscal year, Congress appropriated $11.7 billion for Title I grants to school districts.

—Erik W. Robelen

GAO Says Changes Needed At AmeriCorps Overseer

The federal agency that oversees the national-service program AmeriCorps, according to another GAO study, has made some much-needed policy changes, but still has some work to do.

The GAO began investigating the Corporation for National and Community Service last fall, when the agency, after determining that it could not afford to pay for any more AmeriCorps members, suspended enrollment in the program.

Moves to increase communication between officials at the corporation and those at the trust that provides funding for the program should improve operations at the service agency, the study says. And new restrictions on how and when information on new members is recorded, it says, will help the corporation keep closer tabs on enrollment figures.

But because the corporation does not immediately set aside the full amount promised to each member when he or she joined the organization, the agency "remains at risk of having the actual number of enrollments exceed the estimated number" the corporation's trust fund can support, the report says.

Some AmeriCorps members work as teachers in high-need schools, and others serve as mentors or tutors.

—Michelle Galley

Vol. 22, Issue 32, Page 23

Published in Print: April 23, 2003, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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