A Title I school is a school that receives financial assistance from the federal government to support high-quality instruction and the achievement of students in core academic subjects. Title I funds are used to provide professional development, highly qualified instructional staff,supplemental learning opportunities, instructional materials and activities that promote parent involvement.
Designation as a Title I school is not dependent upon the academic level of a school’s students; rather it is based on the economics of the surrounding area. Federal law requires that each school system use a standardized measure to determine the poverty level of each school’s attendance zone. One accepted measure is the free-lunch count. In Baltimore City Public Schools, the percentage of free-lunch students determines a school’s eligibility for receiving the added resources of Title I funding.
Yearly, there are two critical dates for determining each school’s poverty level. The first date is Sept. 30, which is when each school’s official enrollment is recorded. Oct. 31, the second critical date, is the date on which the free-lunch eligibility of all students in the school is determined.Those two numbers—enrollment and free lunch—are then used to calculate a ratio or percentage known as the school’s Poverty Index. The two dates of Sept. 30 and Oct. 31 are established by regulation and must be adhered to by every school in the school system.
Once a school is designated a Title I school, a number of options become available, and certain actions are set in motion. In addition to state and local laws and regulations, Title I schools must also comply with federal laws and regulations. Receiving the additional resources associated with Title I status places special responsibilities on schools, including the hiring of highly qualified teachers, meeting special conditions if student progress is not adequate, and offering Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and the Parent Choice Transfer Option (PCTO) initiative. Moreover, Title I regulations require school systems to provide services for eligible private school students, homeless students, and neglected or delinquent students as well.Currently, City Schools has approximately 200 schools in the district. Of this number, 117 will be designated as Title I for 2009-2010 under the Part “A” grant. In addition, it is anticipated that another 21 schools will be designated Title I under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).