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Title I funds likely to drop

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

School officials project 15 percent reduction for 2013-14 school year

Denton school officials are projecting a 15 percent reduction in Title I funds for the 2013-14 school year.

Chris Shade, director of school improvement and support, who oversees the district’s federal programs, told trustees at a board meeting last week that Title I funds allocated to Denton are projected to total more than $2.1 million for the 2013-14 year, a projected reduction of nearly $379,000.

Shade said Title I funds are federal money allocated to the district for at-risk students, and Denton will use its funds in 2013-14 to support 11 elementary schools where 40 percent or more of the students are eligible. He said the district is also federally required to serve private schools and nonprofit facilities for children.

Of the more than $2.1 million projected for allocation to the school district, $592,298 is being designated for the elementary schools it will support next school year, Shade said. During the 2012-13 school year, the district designated $1,384,873 for its Title I schools.

Shade said that funding allocated to the individual campuses is generally used to support professional development, supplies, materials, supplemental planning and support and salaries, but the projected allotment for 2013-14 year won’t cover much more than salaries for Title I instructors.

Texas school districts were alerted recently of an estimated 5 percent reduction in most federal education programs as a result of the sequestration and told that the reduction would be reflected in 2013-14 school year allocations.

“It’s disappointing for our children,” Shade said. “We want to be able to provide them, our students, with the best support services to meet the increased standards, but we’re having to do that with decreased funds. That’s [a] ... difficult task.”

Title I funds are distributed by the U.S. Department of Education to states, which then disburse funds to individual school districts.

According to Texas Education Agency officials, the state is projected to receive more than $1.3 billion in Title I dollars for the 2013-14 school year. The funding for next school year reflects a reduction of about 5.57 percent, TEA officials say.

According to a U.S. Department of Education official, Title I funds will become available July 1.

The reduction in Title I funds is a result of “fewer poor children and sequestration,” according to the official.

Under provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all public schools and school districts are evaluated in the areas of mathematics and reading/English-language arts and either the graduation rate at the district and high school levels or attendance rate. The evaluation is known as Adequate Yearly Progress.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is the most recent amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Act passed in 1965, according to the TEA. The TEA website states the act’s function is closing the achievement gap among students from various ethnicities and backgrounds “by requiring greater accountability and offering increased flexibility and choice.”

Districts and schools receiving Title I funds that fail to meet AYP standards for two or more consecutive years must enter the school improvement program and are subject to sanctions, including offering students the option to transfer to a school that meets the standards. Title I funds allocated to the district must be set aside for tutoring and transporting students to a school that meets AYP standards.

Shade said Denton has designated 20 percent of its 2013-14 Title I funds, or $429,000, to be used dependent upon AYP results released in August. If needed, the funding will be used to transport students to schools meeting AYP standards if they choose to transfer in the event the school they currently attend doesn’t meet AYP standards and faces sanctions, he said.

Any monies not used or remaining will go back to Title I schools in Denton, Shade said.

Board President Charles Stafford said he’s not worried but is unhappy about projections. He calls No Child Left Behind “a broken system” that should have been reauthorized years ago.

“It’s very frustrating to have such a dysfunctional Congress that this really broken accountability system has been allowed to continue without being rewritten,” Stafford said. “‘No Child’ was a good idea, but everyone agreed it was supposed to be reworked, revisited seven years ago.”

Shade said he’s hopeful this fall the district will see an increase in Title I funds based on various factors. He said any money not spent by a campus during the 2012-13 year will be reallocated to the campus for the next school year.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.