RSS to get $5 million in Title I funding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
So far, the Rowan-Salisbury School System will receive a little more than $5 million in the upcoming school year in Title I funds ó money used to help low-income students.
The school system will set aside about $1.4 million of that money to pay for after-school tutoring and transportation costs to take some students to better-performing schools. (See accompanying list)Those numbers could change after reading test results are released in November, said Alesia Burnette, Title I director for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
The Rowan-Salisbury system has 19 Title I schools ó all of them elementary schools. Each of those schools will get a piece of the Title I federal money.
“The school improvement plan drives how that money will be used,” Burnette said.
Having more schools in “school improvement” ó government lingo for students not meeting federal No Child Left Behind Standards ó means less money is being funnelled to schools to pay for services like extra teachers, reading specialists and teaching materials.
Under federal legislation, Title I schools that do not meet testing standards eventually must offer parents the choice of sending their kids to another school or provide after-school tutoring services. Some schools have to offer both.
“The more schools you have in school improvement, the more you have to set aside for school (tutoring) and school choice,” Burnette said.
Over the past few years, the number of Rowan-Salisbury Title I schools that have had to offer tutoring or a transfer option has increased. But the Title I money coming in isn’t increasing at quite the same rate.
During the 2006-2007 school year, four Rowan-Salisbury schools were in school improvement.
The number jumped to seven this past school year, when the school system received almost $3.9 million in Title I money. That year, school officials set aside almost $1 million of that money to pay for schools’ federal sanctions.
Eleven schools will offer tutoring or choice in the upcoming school year. Tougher testing standards made it harder for schools to pass.
“The trade-off is schools have gotten less money because we’ve had to pay for those things,” Burnette said of federal requirements for under-performing schools.
It’s unclear how many students are taking advantage of the tutoring ó which is two days a week for one and a half hours ó and the transfer opportunity.
This past school year, Burnette said, the school system received 106 transfer requests. She’s not sure how many students and their parents actually followed through and switched schools.
But Burnette said the school system tries to notify parents as soon as possible when their kids’ schools offer transfers.
“What you want is kids to be in the class on the first day,” she said.