What is Title I and How Does It Impact Education in White Pine?
Posted On:
Thursday, December 21, 2017
by Julie Gonzales, WPCSD Leadership Cadre

With the holiday season upon us, it seems that goodwill comes to the forefront of our minds. We donate our time and money to those less fortunate than ourselves. While this is truly an amazing act, did you know the poverty rate in Nevada is I4.7%?  And if you just look at children ages 5 to I7 living in poverty, the rate increases to almost 25%.  White Pine County is no exception!  In White Pine, the David E. Norman Free and Reduced Lunch Rate (a metric commonly used to indicate families in poverty) is at 40%, at McGill, it’s at 38%, and at WPMS it’s at 36%.  Young students living in poverty start their school years having heard 32 million fewer spoken words than their peers.  This makes it more difficult for these students to acquire and expand their vocabulary when just starting out in school.  Other factors affecting the education of students living in poverty include lack of concentration due to poor nutrition, school attendance dropping which means they fall further behind, and students not knowing how to handle social situations because their parents don’t have time to teach them because they have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.  Over the past 29 plus years of working in this school district, I have taught many students who were part of these statistics.  And now as the Title I Coordinator, I am learning how our district is trying to combat these statistics and factors. I would like to pass along my research about Title I and why it is so important to our students living in poverty.

In I965 federal legislation called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed to provide funds for elementary and secondary education.  It was part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” campaign that emphasized equal access to education for every child.  He believed that poverty was a national problem, that ESEA would shorten the achievement gap of those students less fortunate and give them a chance for an exceptional education.  In more recent years it has undergone reauthorization during the Bush administration as “No Child Left Behind” and under the Obama administration as “Every Student Succeeds Act.”  No matter the acronym it is known for, the basic premise has remained intact - to ensure equal access to education for all students.  Title I is a provision under the original ESEA legislation and has remained with each reauthorization.

The purpose of Title I is for the US Department of Education to provide financial assistance to each state for children from low-income families.  In turn, each state will distribute funds to local school districts based on the percentages of its students living in poverty.  It is up to each school district as to how it spends the funds. Title I funds are intended to provide instruction and instructional support for these disadvantaged children so that they can master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects.  Title I is designed to support local school reform efforts tied to increasing student achievement.  In order for a local school to qualify for Title I funds, at least 40% of students must come from low-income families.  But this is where it gets tricky for White Pine County.

The percentages the state uses to formulate how much money our school district receives in Title I funds comes from a form that parents can choose to fill out (or not) each year that is titled “Household Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals.”  Title I is not indicated anywhere on this form except it is inferred when it says “We MAY share your eligibility information with education, health, and nutrition programs to help them evaluate, fund, or determine benefits for their programs.”  Sometimes parents or guardians do not fill out the form, but yet the school district CANNOT contact them to encourage them to do so.  We cannot single out families who have not turned in the form which includes mailing home the form to fill out or phone calls home to explain why it is important to complete the form.

So what does our school district do with the Title I funds we receive to help combat the statistics and factors previously mentioned?  In the past funds have been used for online learning platforms that students can use to learn at their own pace at school or at home.  The district has used the funds to provide intervention for at-risk students during the school day.  Students are also provided the opportunity to learn objectives they did not learn by extending the school day or school year with summer school.  It has also paid for the Leader in Me Training that helps empower students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 2Ist Century.  As long as schools maintain 40% of our students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, the schools can run school-wide programs that benefit ALL students.  Again that 40% is calculated from the “Household Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals” form.

In conclusion, many of the programs we have in this school district come from funding made available through Title I.  Without the help of our parents and guardians in filling out the necessary form, we might not have the programs we do today.  And if we don’t have more of these forms filled out this year, we might see a reduction to the programs we currently run.  Parents who are interested in filling out the form and helping keep our Title I funds for next year at the current level will be able to find this form on the school district website at www.whitepine.kI2.nv.us.  If you click on “Nutrition” on the left side of the website, and then click on “Forms/Applications” you will be able to download the “Nutrition Application I7 - I8.”  Once it is filled out you can have your child turn it into the school, you can bring it to the district office, or you can mail it.  Your attention and help to this matter are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your assistance!