What Now For School Districts After Federal Waiver Loss

By Ann Dornfeld

School districts across Washington are examining how they’ll be affected by the state’s loss of its No Child Left Behind waiver. The federal decision to pull the waiver means districts will lose control of about 38 million dollars in funding to low-income schools.

Without the No Child Left Behind Waiver next year, schools will have to set aside 20 percent of their federal funding for low-income schools for two main things: tutoring, for families who want it, through private companies. And busing for students whose families want to send them to higher-achieving schools.

In Seattle Public Schools, Michael Stone oversees the federal grant. He says he doesn’t expect busing will be a huge expense for the district. That’s because before the waiver, most families that had that option chose to stay at their home schools.

Stone says his biggest concern is handling the private tutoring contracts. He says “just because of what it takes to manage that and how little control we have over who is working with the students, how they’re working with the students, what programs they’re using.”

During the waiver, Seattle was able to use the private tutor funding toward things like on-campus after-school tutoring. He says some of that may go away. But he says the district should be able to maintain some of its supports for struggling students through other funding sources.

In Tacoma, a district spokesman says the district will also likely retain positions like the mentor teachers it could afford during the waiver. But he says the district may only be able to afford those positions by cutting some teaching positions across the district.

In other districts, including Kent, district officials say they won’t know right away what the ultimate impact of the waiver loss will be.

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