Giving Compass' Take:

• Carolyn Phenicie reports that advocates are concerned that the final version of the Trump administration's 'Supplement Not Supplant’ rules for school funding could hurt low-income students. 

• How can funders ensure that all students have access to the resources and support they need to thrive? 

• Read about America's racial school funding gap

The Education Department finalized rules that advocates have warned undermines a key law meant to ensure equitable education spending for low-income children.

The long-standing “supplement not supplant” rule requires school districts to show they’re not using federal Title I grants for low-income students where they should instead be using state and local dollars. It’s been the subject of long-running federal policy debates since the Every Student Succeeds Act was reauthorized in 2016; an Obama administration proposal was never finalized.

Rather than mandating specifics, the department requires that districts use a “Title I neutral” methodology when doling out funds, meaning simply that officials aren’t explicitly giving a school less money because it has a large number of low-income children.

Such a methodology also wouldn’t use a proxy for Title I status, “such as a school’s number or percentage of students in poverty or vague terms such as ‘educational need,’” that would result in a Title I school receiving less than a non-Title I school, the department said in one of the expanded parts of the guidance.

Overall, the final version of the guidance published this week makes relatively few changes from the January version that advocates criticized. Among the changes, it clarifies that:

  • Districts don’t have to include private contributions, parent fees, fundraising or other outside grants in supplement-not-supplant calculations, unless states or districts require it.
  • While there’s no federal requirement that districts post their funding allocation methods online, state education departments may mandate it, and posting it “will be useful to the [district’s] stakeholders, particularly parents and families.”
  • The rule also applies to school improvement grants given under Title I.

The department has emphasized flexibility and the need to reduce the regulatory burden on school districts.

Advocates worried that the rules give districts too much leeway and undermine those protections for low-income children.

Advocates say the new proposal from DeVos, if enacted, would hamper their efforts to more equitably distribute resources.

Read the full article about the dangers of 'Supplement Not Supplant’ rules by Carolyn Phenicie at The 74.