Title 1 funding cuts impact local districts

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Although area school districts will be receiving less Title 1 funding during the 2012-13 school year, administrators are working to minimize the impacts on local students.

"We are trying to adjust as we go with the financial information we receive," said Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent. "We are trying to do the best we can to provide the same quantity and quality of services we have over the last four or five years.

"That becomes more challenging with every cut in funding," said Asbill. "A larger amount of our funding is shifting to local funds."

In the past, the Cassville R-4 School District received five types of Title funding. During the upcoming school year, Asbill anticipates that the district will lose around $100,000 in Title 1 money.

In addition, the district has lost $45,000 in Title 6 funding, due to a change in Cassville's poverty level. Other decreases in Title monies include: a $10,000 to $15,000 decrease in Title 3 money, earmarked for limited English proficient students; and a $10,000 to $12,000 decrease in Title 2 money, which is used for classroom size reduction.

This year, the district will also lose Title 1C money, which is earmarked for migrant students. Although this funding will be cut, the district is serving a decreased number of students who qualify for services provided by Title 1C funding.

"Title 1 impacts our primary and intermediate school students," said Asbill. "Those funds support our preschool program, which offers two teachers and two aids. We also have four certified Title 1 teachers and eight aids in kindergarten through fifth grades.

"Most of the money pays for salaries, benefits and supplies for Title 1 programs," said Asbill. "We will make sure our personnel needs are met and then see what available funding we have left."

Asbill said additional funding needed for the district's Title 1 services will be provided at the building level.

"We are trying to be mindful of lunch prices and the federal money that we receive," said Asbill. "We are doing our best to maintain what we have. Our board is very mindful that the economic outlook is not good."

Teachers have been working with administrators to prioritize supply requests. Instructors are also sharing teaching materials and pooling resources in an effort to keep operating costs low.

"Our teachers are doing their part to adjust for our needs," said Asbill. "We are just trying to remain positive that the economy will turn around, and we are working to refocus to get through the hard times."

Over the next few weeks, the Cassville School District plans to work with the Cassville YMCA to develop a partnership for afterschool programs. The district has also opted not to hire a new operations director. Joe Cavness, who retired from the position this year, will assist the district in a part-time capacity during the 2012-13 school year.

"It is important for the administrative team to make reductions in the short-term as well," said Asbill. "Joe will help develop the bus routes and extracurricular activity bus schedules. The administrative team and building principals will absorb his other duties.

"We are trying to do the right thing with the money we have access to," said Asbill. "This is the right thing to do in the short-term, and when the picture improves we will look at opportunities to restructure things and move forward."

Even though the Exeter R-6 School District will see a much smaller decrease in Title 1 funding, the cut will greatly impact the district. Exeter Superintendent Dr. Ernest Raney said administrators are looking for grant funds and other options to recoup some of the funding.

"We have Title staff who we have been hired to meet the needs of our students," said Raney. "Some of that initiative is also designed to continue improvements related to placing technology in kids' hands for access to more learning opportunities. Without the funding, it greatly impedes our plan."

Raney anticipates a 4.5 percent reduction in funding next year, which equals around $4,000. During the following year, the reduction could increase to 9 percent, and the district could lose around $8,000 in Title funding.

"We have to budget for that," said Raney. "It is very disappointing. As we look forward to more shortfalls, it hampers our ability to meet the needs of our students.

"We will be looking for other ways to fund what we are doing now," said Raney. "We are trying to keep moving forward while building more learning opportunities for our kids."

The Southwest R-5 School District will lose around $15,000 in funding due to cuts in Title 1 funding next year.

"We will most likely reduce our after school tutoring this coming year, but a 4.5 percent cut would not require any significant changes in what we are planning during the regular school day," said Bob Walker, Southwest superintendent. "Obviously, if a more sizeable cut occurs in the future, we will need to review our Title program and modify according to funding."

The Wheaton R-3 School District could lose as much as $20,000 if funds are withheld as predicted, said Wheaton Superintendent Dr. Lance Massey.

"We are keeping a close watch on those potential sequestering of funds," said Massey. "We are trying to absorb as much of that as possible without cutting any programs.

"We are probably looking at a 4 to 8 percent possible funding loss," said Massey, "but we are doing what we can to not cut any services."

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