DPS could lose millions in fed budget battle

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit – — Detroit Public Schools stands to receive more than $265 million less in federal funding over the next six years if a U.S. House Republican proposal is adopted instead of President Barack Obama’s budget, according to U.S. Department of Education data released Tuesday.

Overall, the GOP’s proposed funding levels, contained in legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — also known as No Child Left Behind — would provide the largest 33 districts with high concentrations of black and Hispanic students over $3 billion less than Obama’s budget.

DPS is 84 percent African-American and 12 percent Latino.

The GOP plan would keep spending limits imposed under the federal budget sequester in place and allow states to redistribute aid to wealthier districts, the Department of Education said.

Students in districts with poverty rates above 25 percent could lose $700 million, while districts with less poverty could gain $470 million, the department said.

“This bill is bad for children and would turn back the clock on progress,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “At exactly the time we should be expanding opportunity for America’s students and helping schools recover from the recession, this bill would allow unconscionable funding cuts.”

Michelle Zdrodowski, a spokeswoman for Detroit Public Schools, said the funding reductions would be devastating for the district and its students.

“Cuts would impact everything from after-school and summer programs to teacher professional development to support for parent involvement and technology for the classroom, among many other things,” she said.

“We would urge our lawmakers to seriously consider the harmful effect the reallocation of these critical resources could have on our community's children and their ability to reach their full potential.”

The Department of Education said after fiscal year 2016, Title I funding in Obama’s budget would grow at the same rate as nondefense discretionary spending, while the GOP plan would provide $7 billion less over six years.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat whose district includes part of DPS, said schools need more resources to succeed and uphold “our constitutional guarantee of equal access to education.”

“As a nation we are failing to meet that responsibility,” Conyers said. “The Republican-backed version of this critical legislation, the misnamed ‘Student Success Act,’ doubles down on that failure by underinvesting in our poorest schools and our neediest children.”


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