School funding increased

Federal dollars could mean more programs, more pay, and more accountability

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The Moffat County School District has about $90,000 of additional federal funds in its budget this year as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act signed by President Bush on Jan. 8.

Last year total grant money for the Moffat County School District was about $365,000, and this year it increased to $456,000.

The money is being used in

a variety of areas including technology and staff development, a

summer math lab and supplies and textbooks.

The No Child Left Behind Act has been called the most sweeping reform in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since its inception in 1965.

It's based on four principles:

Stronger accountability for results.

Increased flexibility and local control.

Expanded options for parents.

An emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

Federal money is often granted with strings attached, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said. There's more funding, but there's also more accountability.

But he said the increased amount of guidelines passed down by

the federal government should not have a significant impact on local schools and schools throughout Colorado.

With CSAPs and school accountability reports already required by the state, most schools should already be doing the things that need to be done to meet the new federal requirements, he said.

"We're already well on our way to meeting the guidelines by complying with what the state was already telling us to do," he said. "The fortunate part of this is Colorado and Moffat County are already ahead of the game."

The federal government stipulates what program areas the money can be used for by breaking its grants into about 10 title areas.

The Moffat County School district received funding in four of those areas.

Money under Title 1, which totals about $300,000, is being used for increased teacher and aide salaries and benefits, staff development and supplies and textbooks.

"It gives us an opportunity to incorporate some innovative programs," Bergmann said.

One of those programs will be a summer math lab, he said.

The four other title areas include:

Teacher and principal quality and technology staff development.

Safe and drug-free schools.

Innovative programs.

No new staff was hired using the money, Bergmann said.

"We are increasing the quality of our existing programs and adding very little staff," he said.

"We realize this is soft money that can vary from year to year. There's been times when they (the federal government) said there's going to be no money."

The chance that the money might not always be there is why the school district is careful with how it spends the money, Bergmann said.

The approach taken by the school district is to fund programs that would usually draw money from the general fund and free up general fund dollars, Bergmann said.

"We aren't going to add a bunch of personnel and programs," he said. "We don't want to overextend ourselves. We're going to go ahead and increase the quality of our existing programs."

Special Education Department Director Archie Neil was appointed federal programs director for the Moffat County School District at Monday's Moffat County Board of Education meeting.s

"We can spend this money in a lot of ways," Neil said. "We haven't added any positions. We're just paying for existing programs with

federal funds."

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