Monday, April 6, 2009

Stimulus funds for middle school literacy

According to today's PG, the district plans to use much of $43M of stimulus funds on middle school literacy. The article describes a combination of programs during the school year and summer literacy camps.

If around a quarter of the district's approximately 28,000 students are in middle school, that works out to about $6000 for each of 7000 middle school students. While $43M sounds like a large sum of money, then, it will just fund a short term program. According to the article, the superintendent indicates that when the money ran out, he might apply for federal funds to continue the programs.

However, federal officials have cautioned against use of these one-time investment funds to provide temporary funding of programs that will have reoccurring costs, stating that continued funding will not be available. More generally, if stimulus funds are to be used for investments that will benefit generations of students, the proposed literacy camp seems to focus excessively on a small group of students who happen to be in middle school at a particular point in time. There seems to be a short term focus on PSSA tests that may be taken 2 years from now rather than on longer term expenditures we will be making payments on for many decades to come.


Anonymous said...

Setting aside the issue of whether this an appropriate investment for stimulus money- before we commit to another large expensive program, shouldn't we look at what the results have been from large expenditures on programs such as the ALA's and University Prep? And at least try this program out with a small group of maybe 30 students to see how it works?

fixit said...

I think the money must be spent within a certain time frame. I do not think there is time to make use of pilot programs.

Questioner said...

Per the article the camp would be summer of 2010, so a pilot could be summer of 2009.