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A parent leader is calling on the school board to reverse course after it decided to pull federal funding from schools with lower poverty rates to concentrate the money on the poorest schools.

David Page leads a school district advisory committee that weighs in on funding for disadvantaged schools. He argues the school board violated its own policies by not properly consulting his group on the plan and “acted in bad faith towards parents.”

Page is filing an official complaint that calls on the school district attorney to tell the board to cancel its vote immediately so it can get more parent input and response before making its decision.

Changing how federal money for disadvantaged children is divided up in San Diego Unified schools is one of the touchiest issues in the district. Currently, all schools where more than 40 percent of students qualify for free lunches get a slice of $23 million. Schools with higher poverty levels get more money per student.

Concentrating the funds on the poorest schools means the money would only go to schools where 75 percent of children or more meet the bar. More than 70 schools are likely to lose funding under the plan, a loss of anywhere from $25,000 to $400,000 depending on the school size and poverty rate. The change would not happen immediately, but would gradually take place over the next five years.

Backers say the plan will focus funding on the neediest schools and make a bigger impact on the achievement gap. But parents at the losing schools argue that schools with lower — but still significant — levels of poverty still need money to help disadvantaged students. Almost all parents on the committee said they didn’t want to shift all the money to the poorest schools when polled earlier this year.

While parents were able to give the school board some feedback about how to divide up the money, the group didn’t have a chance to discuss the idea of a five-year plan, something the board first discussed two weeks ago. It met Wednesday — a day after the board had already voted to shift the money.

Remember when I said there would be fireworks if the school board changed how the money is divided? If history is any guide, this complaint is just the beginning.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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