QEIA Update

Hi all-

Julie sent out an e-mail a few days ago letting everyone know that there was had been a problem over the summer with QEIA over the summer. As someone who has been working with QEIA since the beginning, I thought I should probably comment on the situation as well.

In order to qualify for QEIA and continue receiving QEIA money, the QEIA schools has to meet certain requirements, things like average teacher experience and, most of all, class-size averages. We are currently in Year 3 of implementation. In Year 1, the schools had to be 1/3 of the way toward the final targets. No problem. In Year 2, they had to be 2/3 of the way to the targets. This year, they had to meet the targets 100%. Felton and Moffett met their requirements just fine, but there was a bit of a SNAFU at Jefferson and LMS 7/8.

At Jefferson, it seems, the district exercised something callled “CSR Flexibility” that it shouldn’t have. Under the Class-Size Reduction program, K-3 classes have to maintain an average of 20.4, but to save money on teachers, districts are allowed to exceed this average by a little bit and pay a small penalty. Unfortunately, QEIA doesn’t offer the same flexibility and something that is allowed under CSR is not allowed under QEIA. There was a miscommunication somewhere, or someone read it and then forgot, but the district used the CSR Flexibility anyway at Jefferson in the 3rd grade and, therefore, didn’t meet it’s QEIA targets. The penalty for this is that the whole site, all of Jefferson may lose QEIA funding next year, and K and 4-5 classes would go back to 29:1.

At LMS 7/8, the class-size target was 22.5 in 7th and 22.4 in 8th. As we all know, enrollment fluctuates and, apparently, it usually starts lowish, peaks mid-year and then goes down a bit again toward the end of the year. The district never wants to staff for the peak, so it projects and average for the year. Well, it seems that this year, 8th-grade didn’t decline as much as expected and finished the year with and average of 22.71. Too high. Now, LMS 7/8 and LMS 6 are at risk of losing their QEIA funding next year and returning to 29:1.

The district has submitted an apology letter to the state and a waiver asking to be forgiven for it’s errors. LTA read the waiver, demanded some changes (the district was originally going to request that the QEIA averages be raised to 25 at LMS for the next 3 years! No way!), got the changes we wanted, and wrote a letter of support saying that our students and teachers would be greatly harmed by losing QEIA at Jefferson and LMS, and that the district had made some dumb mistakes, but wasn’t playing intentional or malicious games with the numbers. [Having dealt with the district for the last 5 years on QEIA, they have been a lot more cooperative and transparent than a lot of other districts regarding QEIA and QEIA money.]

And now we wait. It will go before a state board who will decide to either grant the waiver and continue QEIA at the two schools, or will deny the waiver, ending QEIA at Jefferson and LMS. Our application is strong but the challenge is going to be the politics; even though we deserve the waiver, granting it to us will put more pressure on the state board to grant it to other districts who made worse mistakes or who were playing games with the money. It might just be easier for them to say no to everyone. We’ll see, and we’ll keep you all posted as we hear news.

Brian Guerrero
LTA Vice-President

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