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Virginia Superintendents Oppose Feds Directing Money to High-Poverty Schools

Richard Lee

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are at odds over how to hand out federal dollars to local school divisions in Virginia and across the county. 

Are high-poverty schools getting all the funding they need? That’s the question at the heart of a debate in Washington about a new rule directing federal dollars to help at-risk children.

Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia Beach put that question to Scott Sargrad at the Center for American Progress during a congressional hearing this week.

"Are there districts that have students going to low-income schools receiving significantly less per student than those going across town within the same district?” Scott asked during the hearing. 

Sargrad answered yes, but the Obama administration's newest standard for divvying up federal funds among school districts helps address those gaps in funding.

But many believe Title One funding, directed towards high-poverty schools, is already being spent wisely at the local level. 

Howard Kiser at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents says Washington officials should trust local leaders. 

“Superintendents and school boards are not out here trying to find ways to skirt intentions based on law," Kiser says. "They’re not out here trying to provide disservice to children."

House Republicans say they want to let local school administrators decide if the money should go to other programs that could help at-risk students, such as career-tech education or magnet schools. Democrats say that would hurt the poorest children the most.

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