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What would it cost to expand and support the Minority Scholars Program (MSP) to include all 25 high schools per the recommendation of the African American Student Achievement Action Group?

Question#: 1

ANSWER:

The cost to have every school run the MSP as described in the question is provided below. One option for implementation of this plan is to change our approach to the process and reallocate current minority achievement funds, which are described in detail below, by requiring each school to run the MSP as outlined in the question, which would include allocating the calculated funding to each school. Another approach would be to allow schools to continue with their existing programs and add funding so that each school would be required to run the MSP as outlined. To implement an MSP as outlined at each school, the costs would be:

  • Two sponsors per school—if two hours per week per sponsor is allocated, the cost would be $2,248 per school or $56,200 for 25 schools including employee benefits. If four hours per week per sponsor is allocated (two meetings at two hours each) the total cost would be $4,495 per school or $112,375 for 25 schools. In each of these two models, sponsors could either run meetings together or the number of times the group meets could be doubled if sponsors run the meetings separately. These two models account for having 1–4 meetings for the group per week for two hours each. Additional models could be developed and costed out depending on the plan for the program.
  • In addition, if each school were allocated $1,000 for materials and the cost of the retreat, that would be an additional $25,000.
  • The cost of a dedicated central office employee whose job it was to lead the MSP would depend on the job description for this work. If the work were assigned to an existing employee, there would be no additional costs. If a new position were created depending on the FTE, the cost would be between $13,623 for a .2 FTE 10-month teacher position up to $150,081 employee benefits for a 1.0 12-month instructional specialist position. These costs include benefits.

Depending on the model implemented (number of meetings per week and FTE for the dedicated central office support), the total cost could range from $0 (reallocate existing minority achievement funds) to $287,456 (add new funding, four meetings per week, 1.0 instructional specialist).

As discussed above, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) currently allocates minority achievement funds to support a variety of minority achievement extracurricular programs in high schools. This budget is $150,000. Every school has the opportunity to request funds for programs for extracurricular programs intended to address improving minority student achievement. These funds may be used to pay for stipends for after-school programming, materials, food/snacks, and MCPS bus transportation for the program. The minority achievement mini-grant proposals are reviewed carefully by a committee consisting of principals and central office staff. Funding is approved based on the needs of the school to ensure that schools with similar needs receive similar funding and that resources are differentiated for our most highly impacted schools. To better meet the needs of individual schools, we worked with principals to create the criteria for approval of programs and made the decision to allow each school to identify which programs they wanted to implement.

Since minority achievement programs are designed and implemented to support the achievement of minorities in schools and the demographics of our schools vary greatly, it was important to establish criteria for allocations based on those numbers. In reviewing the data for schools, we recognized that our least impacted schools (those with Free and Reduced-price Meals System enrollment of less than 5 percent) had low minority enrollment, while the most impacted schools had higher minority enrollment. For example, African American enrollment in high schools ranged from 62 students (3.1 percent) in one school to 1,109 (55.5 percent) in another, almost 18 times as many students. We recognized that minority achievement programs in a school with 62 African American students would look very different than the programming for a school with 1,109 African American students. Therefore, the allocations of these funds were differentiated.

In addition, schools were not required to implement the same program. School leadership met to review student needs and each developed programs to meet the needs of their students. While many schools implemented some form of a MSP, others took unique approaches. The MSP is an excellent program that meets the needs of the specific group of students. What schools found, especially those schools with large numbers of minority students, is that they needed other programs either instead of, or as well as, an MSP. In these cases, the minority scholars may not be the largest of their minority achievement programs in the school. Some schools have 4–5 programs, each serving the needs of a specific group of students. For example, at one high school they have leaders for student success program, a drama program focused on black history month, a pre-Achieving College Excellence and Success (ACES) program, a career and college program as well as a combined Minority Scholars/W.E.B Dubois Scholars Program. Schools have put in place promising programs such as the Leaders for Tomorrow and Poder in addition to MSP that they feel have provided students opportunities to excel. Like the MSP, these programs provide students a sense of belonging to a group as well as provide structures for learning and leading. Currently, we have more than 40 minority achievement extracurricular programs. These programs occur at all but four schools, our least impacted schools.

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