AHS seeks Title I status, would provide more funding for school

Published 12:01 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

More funding could be on the way for Andalusia High School, with the request to be a Title I school.

“While we have met the requirements of Title I classification for many years, we have not received the benefits or status of being a Title I school,” AHS Principal Dr. Daniel Shakes-peare told members of the local school board this week. “Our elementary and middle school are receiving Title I funds, and it has helped their students and schools in many ways.”

Superintendent Ted Watson said that with Andalusia Elementary and Andalusia Middle School being “feeder schools” for the high school, the natural conclusion would be that AHS would also qualify, but that has not been the case until recently.

Federal Programs Coordinator Bob Harry said the criteria for selection as a Title I school is based on the number of students in poverty.

“That number is based on the number of children who are on free and reduced lunches,” he said.

At least 40 percent of the school must be on free and reduced lunches to qualify, Harry said.

“That way, everybody benefits,” he said. “The good thing about the high school or the middle school is that we can be what’s called school wide and you don’t have to distinguish for certain children. It can go to benefit everyone.”

“Our child nutrition program director started using a computer software program, which made identifying, tracking and qualifying students as being eligible free or reduced lunch much easier,” Watson said. “As a result, we now have adequate numbers to qualify for this assistance.”

Shakespeare said the school is seeking additional funding sources for their school, and it could benefit greatly from the money Title I schools receive.

Title I funding is used to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and to reach proficiency of state standards and assessments.

Title I funds help bridge the achievement gap between low-income students and other students, and help at-risk students with fundamental goals, Shakespeare said.

Harry said that with proration numbers as high as they are, one way the schools can use the money is to fund personnel, but it has to be a position that will help low-income or low-academically performing students.

“If we need a remediation teacher, we can use it to fund that salary because it is used to help disadvantaged children,” he said. “It also goes to help make sure our teachers are highly qualified and things like that. It all kind of funnels down to help the children.”

“We cannot subplant, meaning you cannot use federal funds to pay for something you were already paying for,” he said. “That means we can’t use these funds to fund a coach or a music teacher.”

Harry said Title I programs are federally funded. The system is allowed to take up to 15 percent of the money allocated for administrative costs, but the other 85 percent goes to the schools.

The high school should be eligible for about $150,000, he said.

Harry said the state will send in someone to train the teachers and help them understand how Title I works soon, and the school will be eligible to receive the money in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2011.