The federal government’s reduced allocation of Title 1 funding to the state of Kansas over the past few years is catching up with the Shawnee Mission School District and forcing the administration to make moves to fill a projected $1.095 million budget hole for the Title 1 program here next year.
Central to those efforts will be a move to declassify five of the 13 elementary schools that currently have Title 1 designation — and cut staff funded through the Title 1 program at those five buildings.
Districts designate schools as Title 1 buildings based on the number of students enrolled in free-and-reduced lunch programs, a measure of the amount of economic hardship born by a school’s population. Under federal guidelines, districts can fund staff positions at Title 1-designated schools that provide resources above-and-beyond what’s offered at non-Title schools. In many cases, the funds are used to pay for the salaries of reading and math specialists who can offer personalized instruction to students who are struggling.
Districts have some leeway in determining how many schools they include in their Title 1 programs. But they must designate the schools with the highest concentrations of free-and-reduced enrollment as beneficiaries.
The five schools that will no longer be designated Title 1 schools next year are:
- Broken Arrow
- Rising Star
Elementaries that will retain their Title 1 classification next year are:
- Merriam Park
- Overland Park
Both of the district’s Title 1-designated middle schools — Hocker Grove and Westridge — will retain their designation next year.
Title 1 funding to each state is determined through a formula. Based on application of that formula during the last allocation process, Kansas saw its year-over-year funding for Title 1 programs drop by 9 percent — a bigger loss than any other state.
Losing staff ‘will be impactful to them, without question’
Shawnee Mission Assistant Superintendent for Leadership and Learning Michelle Hubbard noted that some of the schools losing their status had only been designated as Title 1 schools for a few years. But, she said, the reduction in staff resources there would be felt.
“No matter how long you’ve been a title school, losing that staff will be impactful to them, without question,” she said.
However, district leaders indicated that employees who filled Title 1-funded positions this year at those buildings will not be without jobs. Rather, they’ll likely be reassigned to other, non-Title funded positions and their salaries will be paid through the general fund. Additionally, funding for the salaries of social workers at those buildings will be moved to the general fund.
Finally, the district plans to “reduce administrative positions via attrition and reorganization in the amount of $407,000,” with Superintendent Mike Fulton planning to provide specifics on a reorganization plan at the Feb. 11 board of education meeting. Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick alluded to the need to reduce administrative overhead to protect dollars for the classroom as one motivating factors for his retirement at the end of this school year.
The district hopes that these moves will allow the district to rebuild its Title 1 funding balance and maintain the reserve levels required under federal guidelines.