Great Bend USD 428’s five elementary schools are part of Title 1 — a program that provides federal financial assistance to schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. Now the administration will pursue district-wide Title 1 status, extending the program to the middle school and the high school, Superintendent Khris Thexton said.
Administrators presented that recommendation to the school board Monday night and were given a green light to proceed.
This year the district will receive $810,546 in Title 1 funds. While the expansion won’t bring more federal money, it will give the district more flexibility in how it spends Title 1 dollars, said Tricia Reiser, director of teaching and learning.
“It makes sense for our kids,” Reiser said. “Our school district has implemented MTSS (Multi-Tier Systems of Support) district-wide. It’s a system that responds to students’ reading, math, and behavior/social emotional needs. Because we are becoming more systematic, going district-wide allows for more flexibility in using Title 1 funds as well as promote equity in supporting the needs of our students in the seven buildings.”
The schools already meet the criteria for Title 1. Among them: at least 40 percent of the students must be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
“We have seen a gradual increase in our low-socioeconomic clientele in recent years,” Reiser said. At present, 70 percent of the students are in the “at-risk” classification.
Title 1 is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It provides financial assistance to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.
The administrators said there is no downside to expanding the program district-wide.
“It allows us to use those funds more systematically,” Assistant Superintendent John Popp said.
“It’s not like our students in need disappear once they hit middle school,” Thexton said.