Lunch rates qualify D-200 for schoolwide funding

WOODSTOCK – With its free and reduced lunch rate higher than 40 percent, District 200 has qualified for a form of Title I that allows administrators to spend funds on schoolwide programs, rather than those that target specific groups.

The federal grant program created in 2001 under the No Child Left Behind Act provides assistance to help disadvantaged students.

Districts apply either for “targeted assistance” or “schoolwide” funding. Last year, District 200 received about $735,000 in targeted funding. It will apply for schoolwide funding this year, which requires that at least 40 percent of the children in the district qualify for free and reduced lunches.

In District 200, 42 percent of students qualify. The district hit the 40 percent mark before last school year, but officials found out only after their Title I plan had been approved by the state board, Director of Community Services Carol Smith said.

The school board will discuss this year’s plans at Tuesday’s board meeting. The state approves the funding in the fall.

“I don’t have those specific plans yet,” Smith said. “The benefit to having the schoolwide is that there is more flexibility.”

Overall, the Illinois State Board of Education will dole out about $860 million in federal Title I money this year.

As it did under the targeted assistance, Title I funding in District 200 will go only toward those schools that have free and reduced lunch rates of at least 40 percent.

By those standards, Greenwood Elementary, Northwood Middle School, Clay Academy, Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School won’t see any of the money.

In the schools that do, funding could be spread out to what the district identifies as problem areas.

Under targeted assistance last year, among other uses, the district put an emphasis on reading programs at the first- and second-grade levels. The money could support similar programs this year, Smith said, but the district would have more options.

“It might be a reading initiative, but it’d be done at all grade levels instead of just two grade levels,” she said.

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