Title I-- and Then Some
School districts are getting creative in finding ways to finance technology purchases,
blending Title I dollars with money from numerous other funding sources.
STANDING THE ACCUSTOMED digital divide on
its head, economically disadvantaged students are enjoying a
richer technology experience than their middle-class counterparts.
That's thanks to Title I funding, given by the federal
government to schools with at least 40 percent of their
student populations coming from low-income families. The
recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
known better as the stimulus package, brings
even more good news for schools benefitting
from the funds: An additional
$10 billion in Title I funding has been
set aside for the 2009 fiscal year.
Title I's three major objectives are
to improve achievement for all students,
improve staff development, and
boost parental and community involvement,
so technology naturally plays a
large part in efforts to meet those
goals. "We live in a world economy,
and technology is a piece of every
single day of life," says Eileen Lento,
government and education strategist
at Intel. "If the mandate
is to provide appropriate education,
you have to have technology."
But in order for technology purchases
to bring the maximum benefits to education,
districts must carefully consider
their implementations, says Lento.
"Technology gives us the opportunity
to do things you couldn't do before,"
she says. "But whether we're talking
Title I or any funding, the technology
purchased needs to be pervasive
and flexible, and every student needs
"Whether we're talking Title I or any funding, the
technology purchased needs to be pervasive
and flexible, and every student needs access."
For Alpine School District in
Lindon, UT, making technology
a part of every student's educational
of economic status, begins
with establishing a solid IT infrastructure. "We're looking to
enhance our wireless network, provide more access points
and more computers, and possibly do wired infrastructure
replacement if we have enough money," says Matt Johnson,
the district's director of technology infrastructure. The state
of the network, adds Johnson, determines the applications
and software the district can run. "We look at what kind of
application the school wants to utilize and
whether we can properly accommodate that
curriculum with the current network," he
says. "We always take into consideration
the network and the hardware
itself before we look at software."
Title I eligibility is determined
by the student population of the
individual schools within a district,
not the district as a whole;
only six out of Alpine's 68
schools qualify. The district was
able to fund network upgrades
for those schools using Title I
funds, while procuring IT equipment
for the remaining schools
through its regular budget process.
Joe Buglione, instructional technology
specialist at Umatilla-Morrow Education
Service District in Pendleton, OR, says his
entire district qualifies for Title I funding. The
district, whose enrollment includes a large
number of English language learners, has
invested its Title I funds heavily in software
programs that teach English or promote literacy.
In speaking with other districts about
their Title I plans, Buglione discovered some
didn't want to invest in laptops or other
computers for fear of running afoul of the
program's requirements. The rules governing
how Title I money can be used
are strict: Technology purchased with
the funding can only be used within
the eligible school.
"You have to make sure the equipment and the software
stays with the school that qualifies," Buglione explains, a
prospect that can present a challenge to some districts.
options don't end
with Title I. Lento
says districts can
create a technology
reaches all of its
schools by blending
Title I dollars
with money from other "buckets" of funding included in No
Child Left Behind: "If Title I were the only thing, that would be
the end of the story. But because there are so many buckets--
Title I; Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D--in aggregate there
is this huge opportunity." (See "The Bucket List".)
Wayne County School District in West Virginia has seized
such multiple funding opportunities to implement a complex,
districtwide distance learning system. "Our county has more
distance learning equipment than any county in West
Virginia--all 21 schools have the equipment," says Annette
Schoew, the district's federal programs director.
The Bucket List
DISTRICTS NEED TO KNOW that their options for paying for technology
purchases are not limited to Title I. "Title I is only one piece of the
puzzle," says Eileen Lento, Intel's government and
education strategist. Here are some additional buckets of funding
provided by No Child Left Behind that educators can dip into.
- Title II, Part A. The Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting
Fund can help purchase technology for reforming teacher and
principal certification programs.
- Title II, Part D. Also known as the Enhancing Education Through
Technology grant program, it allows for the purchase of technology
to enhance student achievement.
- Title V, Part A. Under the heading of Innovative Programs, this
plan provides funding for 27 program areas, including instructional
and educational materials, technology, school and education reform,
and meeting the education needs of at-risk students.
To stay within Title I boundaries, Wayne County had to do
some creative financing for the project. "We combined federal
funding: Title I and Title V in schools that qualify for Title I, and
Title II and Title V in those schools that don't receive Title I
funding," Schoew explains. "The federal government likes for
us to blend funds; that way we can have job-embedded staff
development in one or all of our schools." By putting the funding
toward a distance learning system, "we are killing multiple
birds with one stone," she says. "We do staff development via
distance learning. The superintendent does his calls via videoconferencing.
And our countywide math and literacy coaches
can go to one site and transmit to every school."
Other uses for the system include districtwide competitions.
"We have schools that can have competitions with each
other, such as a geography bee," Schoew explains. "We can
hook up a fifth-grade classroom in every school, for example,
and they can have a weekly elimination round, and at the end
of the year have a competition for the grand champion--all
with the distance learning equipment."
Wayne County has blended funding to provide much-needed
technologies to its schools in addition to the distance learning
system, including computer labs where students can use
tutoring software from Carnegie Learning. "We're using Cognitive Tutor, which is a math
program for high school students who test below grade level,
in all three of our high schools, and so we bought a portable
computer lab with Title I funds at one high school," says
Schoew. "We used Title V funding to purchase labs for the two
that didn't qualify for Title I funds."
On top of generating those districtwide advancements,
Title I funds have given an extra boost to the district's poorer
schools, according to Schoew. "Our non-Title I schools are not
nearly as 21st century as our Title I schools," she says.
Technology purchases for Title I schools in Wayne County
have included digital whiteboards and PDAs, as well as some
off-the-beaten-path devices such as electronic poster makers
from Variquest, which Schoew says help
with both teaching and staff development. "Our academic
coaches do staff development and they visit individual classrooms,
particularly if we have new teachers or teachers who
need help," she says. "They can model a lesson for the
teacher on large, white, poster-size paper and run it through
the Variquest Poster Maker, and it creates a visual aid that the
teacher can keep and use with the students for years," she
says. "So that's job-embedded staff development."
Creative funding solutions stem from training and teamwork
at all levels, Schoew explains. "Our state has done a pretty
good job of training us at the county level and showing us what
[funding] is out there," she says. "I think our county has some
forward-thinking curriculum teams made of directors of all
different departments, including technology directors. If we're
going to move forward, we're going to have to spend more
money on technology."
Charlene O'Hanlon is a freelance writer based in New York City.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2009 issue of THE Journal.