There’s a series of reports by Voice of San Diego reporter Emily Alpert published over the weekend that states that schools within the San Diego Unified system – including Point Loma High and Dana Middle School – misspent federal monies earmarked for disadvantaged students.
A simple review of the district by voiceofsandiego.org easily found more than $3,500 in thermometers, carpet cleaner and other purchases that contradict San Diego Unified guidelines on how schools should spend federal money earmarked to help its neediest students.
For instance, Point Loma High School reportedly spent “more than $800 on exercise balls and other gym supplies and planned to use more for workout DVDs like ‘Dancing With the Stars: Latin Cardio Dance.'”
The report also states that many principals excused the expenses as clerical errors, as “did the principals of Dana Middle School and Point Loma High, both of whom chalked up Title I spending on medical or athletic supplies to clerical mistakes.”
These funds under Title I are primarily scheduled to be spent to help the students who are in need academically, and who are disadvantaged. These federal monies ares supposed to help with the achievement gap, and are not supposed to be used for basic expenses that school districts spend on their own. As Alpert explains:
But as budgets tighten, parents worry schools may be tempted to use federal money to fill in the gaps instead.
Alpert also raises the issue of whether “… how closely San Diego Unified watches its money for disadvantaged kids. Not all errors are so obvious.”
So, Alpert has figured that $3,500 has been misspent or mis-configured. That’s out of a total budget for the school district of close to $1.6 Billion. Are these Title I funds a huge amount or is this much to do about nothing? What do you think?