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May 13, 2014

Vigo schools watching ‘No Child Left Behind’ waiver issue closely

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Corp. receives about $5 million per year in Title 1 funding, which benefits 11 elementary schools and Sarah Scott Middle School.

Christi Fenton, Vigo County School Corp. executive director of elementary education, said the district is paying close attention to what unfolds as far as Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

The waiver’s loss would force local schools in Indiana to lose control of a portion of the federal funds they use to help students who live in poverty. Schools would have to set aside part of it to pay for federally mandated solutions that could cost some classroom teachers their jobs.

Also, almost every Indiana school would be labeled as “failing” under the federal education rules.

In Vigo County, Title 1 federal funds are used primarily for personnel, with some of the money dedicated to supplies/equipment and also for a 12-day summer school program in July.

In terms of personnel, the funds are used to pay the salaries of 45 teachers who spend part of the day working with at-risk first-graders in an intensive reading program called Reading Recovery.

The rest of the day, those teachers work with small groups of students who struggle in reading and writing. They also may assist students with math.

Fenton hopes federal concerns related to the waiver are addressed and Title 1 funds, as well as their use, are not at risk. “I’m hoping the state will do what needs to be done to comply … so we can continue to help kids,” she said.

Use of Title 1 funding already calls for a lot of accountability and there are stringent expectations, she said. “We’re used to that.”

Superintendent Dan Tanoos said it’s important for education officials at the state and federal levels to work out the issues so that children benefiting from current programs aren’t penalized.

“If they pull the waiver, it would hurt our students and take funding from programs that are benefiting our most needy  children,” he said.

He believes it will be resolved short of Indiana losing its waiver. He said he has spoken with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and “I have faith in the system it will be worked out.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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