RC schools begin process for Title I program

ROGERS CITY – District administrators have started the lengthy process of changing Rogers City Elementary School’s designation for a federal program to allow for a more flexible use of program funds.

District Supervisor Katy Xenakis-Makowski told board of education members she’s applying for a grant to start the process of allowing federal Title I funds to be used schoolwide. At their meeting Monday, she said the grant will go toward hiring someone to draw up a plan to implement the change. From there, the school would change its reporting methods and hopefully implement the change by the 2014-15 school year.

Title I is one of numerous programs administered by the United States Department of Education. According to the department’s website, these formula grants are intended to help local school districts provide extra help to children in low-income families. The department looks at how many students per district fall into certain criteria, such as qualifying for free or reduced school lunches.

Currently, Rogers City Elementary students who qualify for the programs are getting extra help in a variety of academic subjects, Xenakis-Makowski said Tuesday. The district gets about $130,000 annually, which it uses to hire one full-time teacher and one part-time teacher, as well as an aide. They give qualifying students extra reading, math and social studies support. Area parochial schools also get a certain amount of funding.

“They may get specific interventions for skills they may be lacking,” she said. “They get services both in the classroom and in small group settings. There’s additional time after school for math interventions.”

Going from a targeted designation to a schoolwide one would allow Rogers City Elementary more flexibility in how it uses the money, Xenakis-Makowski said. Students would still need to qualify to receive the services, but the qualifications wouldn’t be as rigid. If the district receives the grant, which will bring in somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000, it can proceed with the process to make the switch.

Districts with at least 40 percent of its student body from low-income families can use Title I funds to upgrade their educational programs overall, especially for the lowest-achieving students, according to the department website.

Rogers City Elementary wouldn’t be the only one within the Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Services District to change its designation, Xenakis-Makowski said. Cheboygan and Onaway have as well, with Onaway district Superintendent Rod Fullerton adding the district’s elementary school switched around six years ago.

Like all federal programs, Title I funds will be affected by sequestration, at least indirectly, Xenakis-Makowski said. Next school year, the district will receive 85 percent of its federal funds overall, compared to the levels it received for the school year that just ended.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.