A significantly larger percentage of school leaders plan to reduce the number of elective courses they offer this fall. While only 16 percent reported this action in 2009-10, 51 percent said they will do this in 2010-11.
While school leaders said they understand the role of competitive grants in spurring education reform, they raised a number of concerns about the administration’s approach in their responses to the survey.
Because schools can’t count on receiving competitive grant dollars, respondents said, this funding mechanism leads to budget uncertainty and therefore is unlikely to lead to the kind of long-term innovation and reform that federal officials are hoping for. Also, applying for competitive grants requires schools to commit resources to pursue a revenue stream that might not come to fruition—and many school systems, especially small or rural ones, just don’t have the resources to do so.
“Financially strapped school districts across the nation were clear in reporting that they do not have the capacity to complete a competitive grant [application],” said AASA President Mark Bielang, superintendent in Paw Paw, Mich.
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