Title I federal school funds: Where does the money go?
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
March 24, 2013 01:22 AM | 5221 views | 20 20 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — With 44 Cobb schools receiving roughly $20 million annually in federal Title I funding, it’s fair to ask where that money has gone over the years and how much bang the taxpayer is getting for the buck.

Depending on who you ask, you will get a different answer.

“I would love to see more programs that directly impact the students, like more after-school programs or ways to get more parental engagement,” said Valerie Testman.

Testman has a third grader who attended a Title I school last year, and that’s the reason she began looking into the program, including its budgets. She believes the money could be managed to better assist in student achievement.

Testman has brought up these concerns with her local school and central office staff but said “it always seems to fall on deaf ears when you communicate with the district.”

It’s her belief that parental involvement is the key to improving these schools, most of which are located in south Cobb, and about 1 percent of each school’s Title I funding is required by federal law to be used for just that.

Terry Floyd with Cobb Schools said they use it for employing a parent liaison who helps parents and guardians at each school understand the value of parental involvement and how parents are an integral part of their child’s education.

They also hold educational workshops for parents so they can help their child with homework, provide literacy programs for parents and community members and offer an annual summit where parents, the community and business partners can come together to share ideas about the schools.

Testman doesn’t feel like these actions are getting to the parents, though.

Many times she has asked parents if they know what a Title I school means or is and they do not know.

“You can’t force parents to be involved but you shouldn’t make it hard for them not to become involved,” she said.

Southeast Cobb’s Tim Stultz said he’s personally had conversations with principals about their programs and what they do for students and their communities, and he didn’t see any issues.

“I don’t remember ever hearing anything that threw up red flags,” he said.

Stultz represents Osborne High School, as well as five Title I middle schools and eight Title I elementary schools.

He also pointed out that there are many schools in Cobb, 25 to be exact, that are defined as Title I Distinguished Schools, which means they earned Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) for three years in a row.

“Even though they are Title I, they are performing quite well,” he said.

Constance Carter, Cobb School’s Title I supervisor said improvement is representative in other recognitions as well, like Hendricks Elementary School, formerly Austell Intermediate, being named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence this fall.

Osborne, Lindley Middle and Fair Oaks Elementary were also recognized by the state as Title I Reward Schools in the “High Progress Category.”

More background on funding

Cobb Schools received $20.6 million in 2012 in federal funding from the national program for its 44 schools and Marietta City School $3.4 million for its nine Title I schools.

“The amount of funds allocated to each Title I school depends on two factors: the number of students enrolled at the school and the school’s poverty percentage,” said Marietta City’s Dr. Adria Griffin. “The higher the poverty percentage, the more Title I money the school receives.”

Title I money can never be put into a district’s General Fund if there are any remaining funds.

“If a school doesn’t spend all of their Title I funds, the (Georgia Department of Education) returns the unspent money to the district the next school year as ‘Title I Carryover Funds,’” she said. “The district then divides the carryover money among the Title I schools based on the school’s poverty ranking.”

The use of funds are determined by each Title I school’s principal, along with a committee of staff and parents who help write the Title I plan, according to Carter.

“This Title I Plan identifies the needs of the school, using their school data,” she said. “Those needs must be aligned with the spending of the Title I funds.”

Carter also said the district’s Title I staff, in addition to the director of intervention and chief academic officer, make sure funds are used appropriately and sign off on all spending.

The same goes for Marietta City Schools.

“This office submits a budget to the Georgia Department of Education Title I office, which must be approved before we are allowed to spend any funds,” Griffin said.

To date, there have not been any Title I budget cuts, but with the federal sequester, there would be a projected 8 percent cut for the 2014 school year, or about $500,000 in Marietta City and about $1.7 million in Cobb Schools.

Where did it all begin?

A Title I school, which is part of a federal program that addresses the “Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged,” was established in 1965 under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

The federally funded program was created by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute funding to schools and school districts, which are at or above the 35 percent poverty level, according to said Dr. Adria Griffin, Marietta City’s director of state and federal programs.

Cobb has 30 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, two high schools and Devereux Ackerman Academy, encompassing about 35,203 students, that are classified as Title I schools.

In Marietta, seven elementary schools, Marietta Sixth Grade Academy and Marietta High School, which include about 6,972 students, are all Title I schools.
Comments
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anonymous
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March 25, 2013
I will put it right out there on the table. I drove through my old neighborhood and I grew up in a Leave It To Beaver household and it is all Hispanic now. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver no longer rule. We need to elect leaders now Senor and Senoria for education. Like it or lump it.
anonymous
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March 25, 2013
People, the answer is simple. Very, very simple. The United States of America is fast becoming a diverse population and will continue to do so until the White Man is a minority. You all that are kicking and screaming can kick and scream all you want to, to no avail. We must accept this and make allowances for it. You that are saying "no, no, no,"; by law must say "yes, yes, yes." You can go live in your White Man's tent that will no longer be there in 50 years or less, or you can help your children and/or grandchildren to accept diversity.
Leah Tard
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March 25, 2013
Accepting diversity is a two way street. The current minority needs to realize they are part of the greater good, not THE greater good.
NeedToAudit
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March 24, 2013
Some teachers salaries used to paid with Title I funds at the Title I schools, but positions are earned through FTE from the state so one has to ask if all the funds earned on behalf of students at schools are actually used at those specific schools. An example is that funds are earned through FTE for each student with and special needs students earn one to seven times more than a regular ed student, yet those funds do not go to the specific school for which that student attends, the central office sends an overall average per student head count to the school. If someone wants to know exactly how those funds are spent they should contact retired Title I bookkeepers and grant technicians. Constance Carter was hired as a principal of Nickajack and after the peanut debacle years ago she was transferred to the central office and out of a school, just as her husband was transferred from Lassiter where he wasn't liked and reassigned to the central office. Monies are spent one way and then journaled over to other budget lines against employee salaries and there is an apparent lack of true audit per dollar per expenditure.
anonymous
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March 25, 2013
The Carter's- the Districts quarter million dollar couple. Nice
Pat H
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March 24, 2013
What a waste - parents would be more involved if they actually had to pay the way for their children - food, clothing, shelter. Since the government provides all these need for the lazy, there is no skin in the game.

The wrong people are having children. And the government is using my money to make it easy.
anonymous
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March 25, 2013
Who are the right people having children?
Pat H 2
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March 25, 2013
I pay for every one of my children. Nobody in my family ever received a cent from you and they never will. Who are you to say the wrong people are having children. I agree the wrong people had a child. Since you are here though...
Disadvantaged?
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March 24, 2013
Wow.... Our Title I schools in the CCSD get approximtely $500,000 per year to spend on thier students. The students qualify for free breakfast and free lunch. I am assuming that they qualify for free after school care. They have more teachers. More resources. More services. So WHY can't these students succeed??? These students get MORE than the non-Title students. Even with a Parent Liaison - things don't improve in their homes. Disadvantaged? I don't get it. What more can the schools do for these children and families?
Parents don't help
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March 25, 2013
They do not succeed because the parents are not involved. They don't make their children do homework and don't value education. You can only do so much as a teacher, yet we are to blame!
Uh-duh
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March 24, 2013
If Ms. Testman is not satisfied with how the school her child attends is allocating the Title I funds why doesn't she volunteer to serve on the committee that writes the plan? Also, last I checked, you can offer programs to educate parents but you cannot make them attend nor get involved in the school. Ms. Testman sounds like she has an agenda. Not sure what it is, but for sure I'd love to know how much she volunteers at her child's school or is she yet another parent who loves to complain but never wants to be part of the solution?
YEAH, Uh-duh
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March 25, 2013
Well, It is interesting that Ms Testman is "concerned about Title I schools," yet wasn't concerned enough to stay in one. Now, she wants to be involved even though she transferred to a non-title school. Did she mention that this is her child's third school in 4 years? Maybe what she is seeking could best be found in the form of HOME SCHOOLING.That is the only way you can truly CONTROL EVERYTHING!
Wealthy vs Title I
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March 24, 2013
There are major differences between schools like Sope Creek, Kemp, Still, Due West vs Powers Ferry, Brumby, Sedalia Park and Birney. The parents are the difference. Parents make or break a child's chance at succeeding. Title I teachers put in more hours and hard work than teachers at high income schools. No matter how many times you call parents from Title I schools, no matter how many hours you put in, they simply do not have the means or do not care to help their children. Oddly enough, they keep having children they can't afford. The government needs to set boundries but instead, they encourage these people by having the mentatlity that it is everyone else who should be taking care of their children. Some of these children work very hard to do well and if it weren't for their teachers, they would not make it. Kuddos to the Title I staff who are so dedicated, but it shouldn't lay on their shoulders to struggle and stress. Shame on the parents who don't value education and use school as a babysitting service!
Kinda Putrid
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March 25, 2013
I know PLENTY of you that are wealthy and the only babysitting going on at the taxpayer's expense is from you.
anonymous
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March 25, 2013
Wealthy vs Title 1: You are a total pompous jack's behind that you value children or people in general based on their parent's income. I am in a positon that I could easily say you are fired.
anonymous
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March 25, 2013
Oh, my, you just gave huge, huge, huge incentive to students that you stereotype by money. There are huge differences that there are types such as your pompous behind. What I want you to do is this, then come back here and comment. Where are your children equal to the time you are giving to your child equal to a child that is in the care of a babysitting service? With a "nanny?" Where is your child, answer me. You said it. "Parents who use school as a babysitting service." Well, tell me, Mr. Wealthy Vs. Title 1," isn't a babysitter service while you and your wife are unavailable a babysitting service indeed? Gynmanistic? Babysitting service. Play dates. Babysitting service. Etc. I bet the farm your kid against Wealthy vs. Title 1, Title 1 will beat the pants off of you. My bets are on on Title 1. How wealthy are you? Wealthy enough to put your child before money? You spoke what a pompous a you are in your title. I could beat the pants off of you in terms of income and I would welcome the opportunity to show your pompous A the door.
Politicians fault
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March 24, 2013
Education begins in the home. If you do not have parents whom are involved in their children's education, you have a huge problem. The politicians are to blame for all these free food programs and head start. Pre-k and Head Start are simply babysitting programs for the parents. Pre school only works for children whose parents reinforce the standards at home. Politicians continue to encourage these people to have baby after baby because someone else will take care of them for you. That someone else is the taxpayer. I look forward to the cuts in Title I fundung!
Truth be told
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March 24, 2013
Title I is based on free and reduced lunch program. The higher the percentage of children who qualify determines if you are Title I. The sad issue is all the food that goes to waste at the expense of the taxpayer. Literally, three and four trash barrels full of food that these children get for free being thrown out. The applications are not run through any system to make sure the parents qualify either. The back of the form states how little you have to make to qualify for the program. We need to get rid of free food at the school because it is wasted. If you can't afford to feed the kids, don't have them. Almost 100% of illegals are on this program as well.
C. Smith
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March 25, 2013
Truth be told: Please tell me the truth. You said, "The sad issue is all the food that goes to waste at the expense of the taxpayer. Literally, three and four trash barrels full of food that these children get for free being thrown out." "We need to get rid of free food at the school because it is wasted." Show me these facts about free food getting thrown out as opposed to paid for food getting thrown out. Oh, show me at the same time that almost 100% of illegals are on this program. Please respond dude. Naw, I didn't think so. I forgive that you gave prejudiced facts you thought up in your head.
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