Area schools prepare for budget cuts

Bartholomew County schools and districts across the state are facing a potentially significant cut in federal funding in resources for impoverished students for the 2016-17 school year.

Chad Phillips, director of title services for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., told members of the BCSC school board on June 27 that the federal government informed all Indiana school districts to expect to receive 85 percent of the Title I funding that was allocated last year.

Federal Title I dollars are distributed to enable school districts to provide high-quality educations for students living in poverty.

The cut to Indiana school districts came after state charter schools saw a significant cut in their Title I funding last year. The Indiana Department of Education questioned its federal counterpart about the cut, and federal education officials discovered that the formula that was being used to determine Title 1 dollar allocations in Indiana was incorrect. Funds for the Title I program are calculated based on the percentage of students living in poverty at each school in a district.

The state and federal departments of education began working last year to try to derive the correct funding formula, but have not reached a resolution, which led to the statewide cut this year, Phillips said.

For BCSC, that means the district is planning on receiving about $1.7 million in Title I dollars.

Taylorsville, Clifty Creek and Schmitt elementary schools are the district’s main Title I schools, while Smith Elementary is considered a targeted assistance school, Phillips said.

Five years ago, BCSC received about $2.6 million in federal Title I dollars, but that amount has been on a decline since that time, Phillips said. Most of the money is used to cover personnel costs to staff the four target schools with teachers, coaches and other employees who provide specialized attention to students living in poverty at home, he said.

In Flat Rock — Hawcreek School Corp. in Hope, the Title I program is looking at about a $20,000 funding cut, Superintendent Shawn Price said.

The Hope public school district has received about $98,000 from the federal government for the program in previous years, but was told this year to expect to receive somewhere in the mid-$70,000 range, Price said.

Hope Elementary is a Title I school, and the federal funds are used to pay for a Title I instructor at the school and to possibly cover the cost of hiring Title I aides, the superintendent said.

However, Price said even the $98,000 allocation is generally not enough to cover all of the the district’s needs for serving students in poverty, so the remainder of the cost has been taken out of the general fund. That will likely be the case again this year if the federal government cuts Title I dollars by as much as predicted.

Once the state and federal departments of education come to a resolution on the funding formula, Phillips said BCSC will likely receive a funding amount that will be fairly close to how much the district received last year. With that prediction in mind, Phillips said the Columbus public school district is not planning on having to make any personnel cuts to its Title I program this year.

School districts were required to officially submit their applications for Title I funding for the 2016-17 school year by July 1.

BCSC proposed Title I budget

Total Title I funding

  • 2016-17 planning allocation: $1,756,641.36
  • Carryover from 2015-16: $180,000
  • Planning total: $1,936,641.36

Funding distribution

  • Administration (grant administration and fiscal monitoring): $240,661.36
  • Title I pre-kindergarten: $384,500
  • Taylorsville Elementary School: $372,100
  • Clifty Creek Elementary School: $371,700
  • Schmitt Elementary School: $356,900
  • Smith Elementary School: $96,750
  • District-wide professional development: $7,000
  • Non-public schools (St. Bartholomew Catholic School, St. Peter’s Lutheran School, White Creek Lutheran School): $61,570
  • Homeless and neglected institutions (Turning Point, Horizon House, Love Chapel): $10,000
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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.