POINT PLEASANT — After a few months of uncertainty, Title I schools in Mason County have been re-budgeted for state approval.
Federal programs director Pat Park presented the Mason County Board of Education at their most recent meeting with an update on how the county and state resolved the Title I budget for the year with revised poverty rankings, after the preliminary budget was previously based on incorrect poverty rankings of the schools that were determined by state officials.
“The state came in on July 30. They made up most of our budgets and they left us with balancing the budget. There were some negative numbers we had to adjust, for (Point Pleasant) Primary School and Leon (Elementary,)” Park said. “Since they (the state) made most of it (the budget), hopefully they’ll approve it.”
Superintendent Suzanne Dickens said re-budgeting the Title I funds for the schools with state officials and revised poverty rankings saved the district over $200,000.
“It was a win-win, and it saved us $204,00-$210,00 that we would have had to pay out of our pocket but we didn’t have. So it was a win-win. I asked the state to help us and they did come, and so they worked it out for us,” she said.
Park cited the transfer of LIS (Legislative Information System) funds and the resignation of one teacher as budgeting remedies for the schools.
“We had to transfer most of the LIS funds to pay for the counselor’s salary. That left us $14,000 in that fund. You can transfer our LIS funds and you can transfer Title II funds. We didn’t have to transfer the Title II funds,” she said.
A primary concern for some schools was the ability to keep certain teachers employed in spite of budget concerns and the need for cut backs.
“Teacher’s were able to stay in their school. There were four teachers at Point Pleasant Primary School. A teacher resigned this year, so we’re going to delete that position and that will allow us to have enough money to fund that school because that was one of our issues,” Park said.
Dickens also commented on the school’s ability to keep certain teachers employed.
“I think the big thing is the New Haven teachers — they (the state) made it possible so they could stay at New Haven,” she said. “They very much did not want to leave New Haven, and the way they created it (the budget) was so at least they can stay the rest of this year. And that gives them a year to bid on other positions if they have to stay in that school because, certainly, the population is increasing there and we expect to have more grade-level positions even if they wouldn’t be Title I next year. But we should know in January and I don’t think the state will make the same mistake twice.”
The six schools that Title I funds are currently serving are Beale Elementary, Leon Elementary, Point Pleasant Primary School, Ashton Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and New Haven Elementary, Park said.
“The state indicated that we can use a primary focus of Pre K-2, and skip (Point Pleasant Intermediate School) for this year,” she said.
Roosevelt Elementary is a new school being serviced by Title I funds this year.
“Since Roosevelt will be a new Title I school, we’ll have to spend a great deal of time working in that school,” Park said.
Title I funds — designed to provide financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families — are currently allocated through four statutory formulas. The formulas are primarily based on census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state.