City leaders discuss educational funding

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2006

Everyone who has a child in the Demopolis City Schools System knows their children are adequately provided for when it comes to learning.

Parents are assured knowing their students are given top-notch learning supplies to develop their young minds.

But where exactly is the money coming from to pay for all these books, learning tools and extra items?

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Thus, to clarify who provides school funding, Gina Johnston and the federal programs advisory committee met with parents, teachers and city leaders Thursday morning in the Demopolis City board office.

“Our funding is determined by the number of children that are economically disadvantaged,” Johnston, Demopolis’ federal program and community coordinator, said to a small crowd which included Demopolis High School principal Isaac Espy and vice principal Brooker Barlow, U.S. Jones Elementary teacher Tony Speegle, Demopolis city councilman Thomas Moore and mayor Cecil P. Williamson.

Johnston discussed five different types of funding ranging from those that go toward the students directly and those that fund staff training to better reach the students.

According to Johnston, Title I funding goes to the area’s elementary schools and set asides such as administration, indirect costs, auditing, professional development, LEP, and providing for homeless, neglected or delinquent children in the system.

“Although we don’t have high numbers of homeless children in Demopolis,” Johnston said, “Katrina showed us there is a reason for setting aside money for that kind of situation.”

Title II funds are used primarily for high-quality professional development, while Title IV money is allocated to teach drug prevention.

“There more information we can get out about staying drug free,” Johnston said, “the more we can help our children make the right decisions.”

Title V funds are used for research-based school programs, such as the Renaissance programs, to further the knowledge of advanced students and Title VI allocations are part of the Rural Education Imitative and can be used for a wide array of things including purchasing library books, paying stipends and providing professional development.

The attendees also discussed other successes and needs of the school as Barlow brought up the plans to decrease class sizes at DHS and U.S. Jones teacher Tammy Knott also spoke highly of the integrated teaching for students with disabilities.

“It’s been a true success,” Knott said. “Out of the seven special education students we had in a regular classroom with both a special and regular teacher, three of them made a three on their tests.”

And according to Johnston, the maximum possible score is a four.

“All the students benefit more with two teachers in the classrooms,” Johnston said.

But having extra teachers and supplies in classrooms across the city will call for having more federal funding. Which is why Johnston and the committee continuously work to keep the system fully funded.

“We simply want the best for out children,” she said, “and we are going to keep trying to get the best out of our school system.”