Are You Using Your Title 1 Funds Appropriately?

Learn about the flexibility of Title 1 funds and how to approach grants.

Originated in 1964, Title I is a federal grant program designed to provide financial assistance for students living in high poverty areas. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) receive funds for specific populations in two ways: targeted assistance or schoolwide assistance. If the student’s school socioeconomic status is less than 75 percent, the LEA is eligible to receive funds for this specific population. If the total social economic status student population for the LEY’S school building is more than, 75 percent schools are encouraged to apply for the funds as a schoolwide Title I program. The school wide status affords designated schools additional funds, and flexibility to meet the needs of their learners. Title I is one of the oldest federal programs supporting elementary and secondary education in the United States.  More than 90 percent of the school systems in the United States receive some sort of Title I funding.

Most school administrators prepare the budgets for Title I during the end of June or the end of July. Funds are passed through the State educational agencies (SEAs) to the local educational agencies. These funds are typically dispersed during early September. Disbursement is always contingent upon when the grant was submitted and if your state has passed their budget for the corresponding year. Title I funds are funds students in both public and private schools. The purpose of Title I federal grant funds is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and attain proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. Both Targeted Assistant schools and Schoolwide programs are charged with implementing programs to close the achievement gaps among the different group of learners.

However, schoolwide programs have additional flexibility to:

  • Allocate funds to promote schoolwide reform
  • Coordinate services with other educational services, and other agencies to provide services to youth, children and families
  • Distribute targeting resources to make a difference to LEAs where the needs are the greatest

This flexibility is not limited to academic needs. Given the heightened focus on promoting safe schools for all learners, schoolwide programs are encouraged to review their comprehensive plans to determine if there is a need to revisit school safety concerns. Research has proved, increases in academic achievement are correlated to the safety and culture of the school. When students feel safe, the opportunities to close the learner gaps increase expeditiously. Schoolwide Title I programs should consider identifying if there is a need to allocate funds to reform the culture and safety of their campuses. This could involve implementing a memorandum of understanding with the local police department and establishing or enhancing their school resource officer program. Perhaps there is a need to coordinate services with the local mental health agencies, or purchase equipment to secure the entrances and exits of their buildings. Or, just maybe the communication among emergency personnel needs upgrading to ensure tactile emergency preparedness is relevant and efficient.

As with most grants, the first step is to assess your needs, review or rewrite your strategic plan and align the plan to a logical process map. The logic model process map will assist your team in ensuring you are implementing strategies and measuring the progress of the implementation to meet the needs of your learners.  So, before you submit the final budgets for the 2016 — 2017 school year, ask yourself, ‘Are we using our Title I funds efficiently and effectively to make a difference where the needs are the greatest?’

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