District copes with fewer federal funds
The Park City School District is starting the year with fewer federal funds to benefit low-income students.
Last year the district received $206,000 in Title I funding, which has dropped to $126,000 for 2006-07. The money is used to hire teachers to help with remediation in math and reading.
District business administrator Patty Murphy linked the drop to funding cuts by President George W. Bush.
In order to qualify for Title I funding, more than 15 percent of students need to qualify for free and reduced lunch. McPolin, Parley’s Park and Trailside Elementary School all qualify.
"It kind of raises eyebrows with everybody but it is the reality of what we have in town," student services director Tom VanGorder said.
With fewer Title I funds the district has decided that next year it will only designate McPolin Elementary as a Title I school, VanGorder said. At Parley’s Park and Trailside Elementary reading initiative money for grades K through three will be used from taxes to compensate for the loss, he added.
"It’s a one-year fix, I don’t know what will happen next year in Title I," he said.
VanGorder added the cuts make it more difficult for the district to provide students with opportunities.
McPolin Elementary School principal Lori O’Connor said, in the past, her school has used the funds to hire additional staff, including an English as a second language teacher to be present in every classroom during literacy lessons.
"That allowed the teachers to do small group instruction, which has been found to be one of the most effective means of teaching literacy," she said. "The bottom line is: whenever you can increase the staffing, you can do more for all children."
O’Connor added the cuts are definitely hurting the students.
"Any cuts to education always have an impact and unfortunately it’s the students and the programs designed to meet their needs that suffer the cutbacks," she said.
The loss of Title I funding is one O’Connor said should be questioned.
"I’m concerned that society doesn’t demand that education be more of a priority and I’m concerned that cuts in education are not questioned more by the public," she said.
Percent of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch
McPolin Elementary School: 28.8-percent
Parley’s Park Elementary School: 18.6-percent
Trailside Elementary School 17.6-percent
The state determines which schools are eligible for Title I funding based on the percentage of students that qualify for free and reduced lunch. To be eligible 15-percent of the student body must qualify.
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Sales-tax collections in Park City in July beat City Hall projections by a wide margin, providing a key data point that illustrates a nascent economic comeback of sorts from the spring business shutdowns.