You got the money, what do you do with it?
You got the money, now what do you do with it? The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) put additional Title I funds into schools. Now it is up to school boards, superintendents, and constituents to decide how to use it. Pre-K Now just published a guide for to help with those decisions. Many school systems face achievement-gap problems associated with the psycho-social delays in children related to poverty. Title I funds are legislatively targeted to address those deficits.
How can your school system encourage literacy among all of your students by first grade? How do you target the kids that need help the most? How can you proactively address the inequalities of poverty within the budgetary constraints of the current climate? A number of reports have discussed the importance of early education in increasing high school graduation rates.
Essentially, these new funds are meant to support already existing and effective programs. The U.S. Department of Education does not want these funds used for pilot programs that haven't proven their worth. This is why using Title I to support public pre-k makes so much sense. From the report:
Districts may only use Title I funds to expand access to and/or supplement existing services. For example, Title I can be used to expand a half-day pre-k program to full day. There are strong stipulations against using Title I funds to “supplant” other resources, i.e. using Title I money for something previously paid for with state or local dollars.
School districts – maybe even your own -- may be sitting on a bucket of cash for at-risk kids, and just need to access those dollars. If your district is in that position, you should consider investing in the future by supporting your pre-k program in your school, locality, or state. Maybe you have one pre-k classroom in your school with a wait list. This is the perfect time to start up an additional classroom to give more kids access to a high-quality early learning experience. Maybe your school system needs to align its pre-k through 3rd grade strategies or establish common goals for pre-k programs. Now is the time. Read the report and learn how Title I works for pre-k.