AP NEWS

Federal funds offset trip, training

May 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is a follow up to Tuesday’s front page story regarding San Benito CISD’s trip to Washington, D.C. This one clarifies the questions regarding this expenditure, which was not accurately described and explained in that edition.

SAN BENITO — Most of the anticipated $109,775 school administration and staff will spend to attend and present their successes at the annual Model Schools Conference in Washington, D.C., this summer will be paid for through federal funds.

Just more than $25,000 will be the cost to the school district in order to attend the conference in Washington, according to school district information. That includes travel, hotels, meals and registration fees for the 35 people slated to attend.

The remaining nearly $85,000 will be paid for through Title II, Part A, which is federal funding used for teacher and principal training and recruiting.

San Benito CISD was named a 2019 Innovative District for making rapid and significant improvements in student outcomes, including student technology usage.

It is one of eight districts in the country to have administrators and teachers travel to Washington to present at this conference focusing on implementing new ideas and measuring progress.

A total of 300 school districts were considered and 26 Texas school districts are expected to attend the conference, including La Feria, according to board approved and viewed documents.

This trip is the result of the district International Center of Leadership in Education professional development provided through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The training for this school year cost $311,000. That expense, too, was covered by the federal Title II, Part A funding.

The training occurs here within the district and includes professional development that involves coaching, book study and strategic planning.

In April of 2018, the district approved an educational partnership with the ICLE in hopes of driving student growth in local classrooms, stated Isabel Gonzalez, interim director of public relations.

Despite signs and online critics referencing the $455,000 figure being only for a trip to Washington, that is not accurate according to this school district information.

The total of $455,000 references actually seem to add together the $346,000 in house training from ICLE for the 2019-20 school year, and the budgeted cost of $109,000 for the trip to Washington.

At the Feb. 25, regular school board meeting, the contract for the 2019-20 school year ICLE training was approved at a cost of just more than $346,000.

That also will be paid for through federal Title II funds. That means money will not be used from the district’s budget to pay for the training next school year.

As many as 35 San Benito CISD personnel will join districts from New Jersey, Houston, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Alabama as presenters at the conference in late June.

Those include the superintendent’s leadership team, nine elementary principals, six secondary principals, five curriculum directors, three elementary instructional coaches, four secondary elementary instructional coaches and four teachers.

According to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt website, the Model Schools Conference is a four-day professional event consisting of more than 100 sessions where schools and districts share their educational successes and strategies.

Officials will speak about system-wide rigor, relevance and relationships. Each district has a specific area of focus for their presentation.

Last year, the district attended the ICLE conference in Orlando.