LA Unified Board to Consider Return to Greater Title 1 Support
Constance Sommer | October 25, 2013
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Not so long ago, students at Dahlia Heights Elementary School could receive tutoring during and after school. They enjoyed the services of a music teacher and a part-time librarian and could access free after-school enrichment and homework assistance. Teachers at the Eagle Rock school got $20,000 worth of professional development..
All those benefits came through federal Title 1 funds.
Today, the vast majority of the money is gone, a victim of the LA Unified school board’s decision in 2011 to raise eligibility requirements for schools to receive Title I money. But help may be on the way.
On Nov. 12th, after months of frantic appeals from parents, teachers and staff at Dahlia Heights and other affected schools across the district, the board will consider a resolution from Tamar Galatzan and Monica Ratliff that would restore the funding to its previous levels.
Title I was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to help poor children perform as well as their middle class peers. Previously, LA Unified required a campus have at least 40 percent of its students receiving free or reduced price lunches to qualify for Title I funding. But after the federal government slashed the district’s allocation by 9.2 percent, the board voted, 6-1, to increase the Title I threshold to 50 percent of students with free or reduced price lunch.
Only Galatzan voted “no.” Now she and Ratliff, who was elected to the board only this year, are sponsoring the resolution to restore the previous 40 percent funding level.
“Does a student living in poverty who attends a school that is 49.7 percent Title I need less intervention, less coaching, less technology, less art or less library time than a student at a school where 50 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch?” Galatzan said in a statement provided to LA School Report. “I believe that a student living in poverty deserves the assistance intended for them—regardless of their zip code or their home school.”
District officials say they are still calculating how much money was lost due to the 2011 vote. But a breakdown provided by a district spokeswoman showed that Dahlia Heights received $36,400 in Title I funds last year, down more than 76 percent from a high of $154,000 two years earlier. This year, the school does not expect to receive any Title 1 money.
The 2011 decision affected 23 of the district’s more than 900 schools. The number is less than that now as some schools have transitioned to charter campuses.
But for those who remain within the district, the loss of support has had significant impacts. Slightly less than half of Dahlia Heights students qualify for free or reduced price lunches. After the funding cut, its overall state test scores dropped by 11 points, and test scores of Hispanic students dipped by 34 points.
“This money is not a safety net,” said Rachel Greene, a Dahlia Heights parent. “It’s a trampoline for our kids.”