Understanding education funding is critical for success in the education marketplace. Charles Blaschke, of Education TURNKEY Systems, has been advising education publishers on Federal and state funding streams for 30 years, and provided us with their “Special Report: Selling into Niche Markets”.
Here are some highlights from this report:
Don’t just concentrate on wealthy districts, for many products it pays to look for districts that are receiving increases in Title I funds (for high poverty schools). These schools are also likely receiving increases in other federal revenue streams such as Title IIA (professional development) and Title II (English language acquisition).
The lowest performing schools often have the most flexibility in how they use their funds. While most schools need to use funds in a “supplement not supplant” mode, this is not necessarily true for these districts. In many states, Priority Schools (the lowest 5%), can use Title I funds for schoolwide interventions, professional development, or tutoring programs, instead of solely directing the funds at Title I students. These schools may also get overallocations of other funds, as most state allocations for “school improvement” go to Priority schools.
Providers of professional development or special education should be aware that districts with over-representation of minority students in special education programs must use 15 percent of their IDEA funds for early intervening services. Expenditures of this type have increased from about $500 million in 2005-6 to $4 billion today. These providers who want to tap into those funds should be able to indicate how their services reduce the need for costly special education programs.
On the other hand, many local and state officials are not aware of the flexibility offered by these programs, and a provider must be prepared to educate the district and even state personnel on how the funds can be used. For example, IDEA funds are often allowed to be used to purchase products and services which will be used by non-special education students and teachers, as long as there is no additional cost to use the product, there is minimal “wear and tear”, and no special education students or teachers will be denied use. Providers should be prepared to work with schools to develop documentation to justify using the funds.
The report highlights the importance of keeping abreast of funding changes. In many years, nimble providers were able to quickly help districts who were caught in last-minute decisions by the US Department of Education to limit the budget carryover allowed. And looking forward, providers may have to move very quickly if President is able to out maneuver the scheduled sequester cuts; this encourage districts to spend some funds now that they were holding for the next year.
For a full copy of the report, or to be kept abreast of federal and state regulatory and funding changes, contact Education TURNKEY Systems at (703) 536-2310.