Education Superintendent Dale Erquiaga on Friday laid out the governor’s plan to centralize funding for teacher professional development under the state Board of Education.
Erquiaga said the Regional Professional Development Programs have historically received nearly all the funding, much of it federal.
He said the goal of the proposed “Great Teaching and Leading Fund” is to ensure those regional programs follow state priorities for teacher improvement.
Of the regional operations, he said, “we think they are critical and should remain in place but think the alignment, the way those are funded, should match state priorities.”
The plan would provide $4.9 million the first year to start the process of providing competitive grant funding for teacher development in line with state priorities. In the second year, he said some $6.6 million in money now going to the RPDPs would be transferred to the state which would manage and award the grants to not only teacher programs but school districts, the charter authority, higher education, employee associations and nonprofits.
But two local officials questioned the move saying it could reduce the flexibility of professional development programs to respond to changing needs.
“We need flexibility in order to meet the needs of administrators, teachers and students in the state,” said Shelly Smith, project facilitator for the southern RPDP program.
She said if funds are received in the form of grants, when needs change, the necessary flexibility to meet those needs won’t be there.
Steve Hansen, Lincoln County Superintendent, said it’s critical for those rural programs to be responsive to changing problems and needs.
“The responsiveness that currently happens I think will go away with this new structure,” he said.
He said flexibility is needed to immediately respond to changing needs.
Erquiaga said there’s nothing to say regional programs can’t present their priorities to the state and get them adopted.
“If that is agreed to be a statewide need, it could be funded that way,” he said.
The committee took no action on the proposal.