Students Need Access to Federal Programs
All children deserve a quality education regardless of their families’ income level. Schools need to be strong and supported in order to close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates. Community support is key to ensuring that schools have the resources that students—especially low-income students- need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. The four elements that students need to succeed in school are: state financial support, federally funded programs, strong community partners and expanded opportunities in after-school programs.
Federally Funded Program Vital to Student’s Success:
• Free & Reduced Lunch Program: Students from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free or reduced prices in the federal School Lunch Program.
• McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act: A federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students
• Title 1 Funding: Provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.
Free & Reduced Lunch program
All public and nonprofit private schools (regardless of tuition) and all residential child care institutions can participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Students from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free or reduced prices in the federal School Lunch Program. Students from families reporting income between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for reduced priced meals, while children from families with incomes below 130 percent of poverty are eligible for a fully subsidized or “free” meal.
• About 21 million students nationwide eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year.
• Just over half , or 51%, of all students attending public schools in the United States are now eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, according to a new analysis of federal data. By comparison, 38 percent of public school students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches in 2000.
• To qualify for a free breakfast & lunch a family of 4 makes $31,525 or less. A family with 2 children enrolled this program would save $1,054.80 annually through this program (the typical cost of a school lunch is $2.93 x 180 days)
• To qualify for a reduced priced breakfast & lunch a family of 4 makes $44,863 or less. A family of four with 2 children would save $910.80 annually through this program. (the family pays .40 per lunch instead of $2.93 )
• 55.6% or 15,000 local students received free or reduced-priced lunches last year, up from 38 percent in 2005.
• The maximum price to the student’s family is 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch at the reduced lunch rate. The basis of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals can be determined one of four ways: categorical eligibility, direct certification, community eligibility, income-based eligibility
• Read more about this important anti-hunger program.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act
The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” The act provides examples of children who would fall under this definition:
• Children and youth sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason
• Children and youth living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations
• Children and youth living in emergency or transitional shelters
• Children and youth abandoned in hospitals
• Children and youth awaiting foster care placement
• Children and youth whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc)
• Children and youth living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
• Migratory children and youth living in any of the above situations
The McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll homeless children and youth immediately, even if they lack normally required documents, such as immunization records or proof of residence. The act ensures that homeless children and youth have transportation to and from their school of origin if it is in the child’s or youth’s best interest.
Local Student Homelessness
• 757 – Students in Buncombe County were identified as homeless last year, using the definitions provided through the McKinney-Vento Act.
No Place to Call Home: The Rise in Youth & family homelessness by Casey Blake and Erin Brethauer (Asheville Citizen-Times)- The standard for school homelessness services are based on the McKinney-Vento Act, which defines homeless children and youth as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.”
The overwhelming majority of the homeless families Buncombe County Schools serves, about 78 percent, are “doubled up,” or sharing housing with another family.
“They often have heat (and) water (and) are sheltered, clothed, clean and fed,” said (former Buncombe County Homeless Liason, Luke Heller). “To the naked eye that would not be perceived as homeless, and indeed they have a roof over their heads. It’s amazing how often families work together to support themselves and each other. This is a culture that’s somewhat misunderstood and in the shadows. They’re afraid to be seen.”
Children are the new frontier in homelessness, the only subpopulation of homeless people that has actually grown in recent years.
One in five American children nationally is now living in poverty, giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania.
North Carolina has slowly climbed to the top of this national trend, consistently ranked as one of the 10 states with the highest population of homeless children in the nation.
At the center of most political and funding debates surrounding homelessness is the image of out-of-work single mothers, disabled veterans and mentally ill or drug-addicted adults. They eventually lead to the exchange of phrases such as “personal responsibility” and “entitlement.”
Children are rarely the face of that debate, though they have the most to lose from a life without stable housing.
Read the full series of Asheville Citizen-Times articles on youth & family homelessness.
Title 1 Funding
Title 1 Funding provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Federal funds are currently allocated through four statutory formulas that are based primarily on census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state.
LEAs target the Title I funds they receive to public schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. Unless a participating school is operating a schoolwide program, the school must focus Title I services on children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet State academic standards. Schools enrolling at least 40 percent of children from low-income families are eligible to use Title I funds for schoolwide programs designed to upgrade their entire educational programs to improve achievement for all students, particularly the lowest-achieving students.
Title I is designed to help students served by the program to achieve proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards. Title I schools with percentages of students from low-income families of at least 40 percent may use Title I funds, along with other Federal, State, and local funds, to operate a “schoolwide program” to upgrade the instructional program for the whole school. Title I schools with less than the 40 percent schoolwide threshold or that choose not to operate a schoolwide program offer a “targeted assistance program” in which the school identifies students who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State’s challenging academic achievement standards. Targeted assistance schools design, in consultation with parents, staff, and district staff, an instructional program to meet the needs of those students. Both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs must use instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities. (from U.S. Dept. of Education)
How Title 1 Funding is Used Locally
The Buncombe County Title I instructional program is an in-class model serving grades K-5 in elementary schools and in grades 5-6 in intermediate schools. Each eligible Title I school employs at least one Title I Reading Specialist plus other Title I funded personnel are employed based upon the school’s allocation and the literacy needs of the students. Schools hire additional staff such as teachers, tutor, and paraprofessionals to address the academic needs of students. Funds are also used to purchase instructional intervention materials, provide professional development to support the continued development of highly qualified Title I staff, and to support parent involvement at school sites.
Local Schools receiving Title 1 Funding:
Avery’s Creek Elementary
Black Mountain Elementary
Black Mountain Primary
Charles Bell Elementary
Haw Creek Elementary
Hominy Valley Elementary
North Buncombe Elementary
North Windy Ridge Intermediate
Sand Hill-Venable Elementary
West Buncombe Elementary
W.D. Williams Elementary
Each year the state of North Carolina identifies Title I Reward schools in one of two categories. Those categories are:
1. “highest-performance” which is awarded to a school among the top 10% of Title I schools in NC that have the highest absolute performance on EOGS for the past two school years for the “all students “ sub group
2. “high progress” which is awarded to a school among the top 10% of Title I schools in NC that making the most progress on EOGS for the past two school years for the “all students” subgroup
For the 2013-14 school year Buncombe County had eight high performance Title I Reward Schools:
Avery’s Creek Elementary
Black Mountain Elementary
Black Mountain Primary
Haw Creek Elementary
North Buncombe Elementary
W.W. Estes Elementary
Pisgah Elementary earned the honor of being designated as one of the top 10 Title I schools in the entire state of NC by the National Title I Distinguished Schools program. The National Title I Distinguished Schools program annually recognizes exemplary Title I schools that hold students to high standards and demonstrate exemplary school effectiveness. Pisgah Elementary’s designation as a top 10 Title one school in NC earned them the right to submit a portfolio and compete for the chance to represent NC for the National Title I Distinguished School Award.
As a nominee for the National Title I Distinguished School Award, Pisgah Elementary received a banner display at their school site along with a monetary award of $125,000.
This story is part of a series collected by The Success Equation. Under the umbrella of Children First/CIS, the Success Equation is an initiative that unites community to reduce and prevent the root causes of poverty so all children can thrive. Get involved! Learn about action steps, volunteer opportunities, and help share these messages by going to www.facebook.com/SuccessEquation. To find more, go to www.successequation.org.