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Educators: Biden's Proposed $20B Boost To Title I Could Have Dramatic Impact To Idaho Schools

A male adolescent student wearing a face mask sits at a desk coloring with crayons.
Boise Independent School District
13 schools participate in Title I programs in the Boise Independent School District.

The Biden administration is proposing a significant funding boost for the nation’s Title I program – in fact the increase would be historic: more than doubling its current funding. The proposal could boost nationwide funding to more than $36 billion, the biggest increase since its inception in the 1960s.

“Extra funding would allow us to give extra attention to those kids,” said Stacey Roth, Student and Federal Programs Administrator for the Boise Independent School District.

Title I, a part of the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act, provides additional assistance to students from low-income families to help ensure they are meeting academic standards.

Roth visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to help put a face and voice to the Idaho children who might benefit from the proposed historic boost to Title I.

“We know a lot of students have kept up. Lots of students have exceeded our expectations. But we also know we have students and families that need additional support.”
Stacey Roth

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. The Biden White House has unveiled a $1,500,000,000,000 spending proposal for the 2022 fiscal year. Now, to be clear, this is not the much-discussed proposed infrastructure plan. Inside the proposed federal budget is funding to fight climate change, shore up national security and provide more federal housing aid. But what gets our attention this morning is proposed increased funding for Title I, an increase of about $20,000,000,000 nationwide, which would be the largest year-over-year increase to the Title I program since its inception. And that goes all the way back to the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. So, we've got a bit to talk about this morning. Stacey Roth is on the line. Stacey Roth, Student and Federal Programs Administrator of Programs for the Boise School District, Stacey Roth. Good morning.

STACEY ROTH: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: Up front. Can you remind us what Title I is? And perhaps it would be best to put a face and a voice to those served by Title I.

ROTH: Title I is a funding source that we receive that helps us close the achievement gap for our average students… so, our students that are disadvantaged. It really gives us an opportunity to support the students so they can close any achievement gaps that they might have.

PRENTICE: So, does that include a fair amount of the schools in the Boise School District?

ROTH: So, currently we have 13 Title I schools. We have 12 Title I elementary schools, and we have one Title I high school, which is Frank Church Alternative High School.

PRENTICE: I think what interests me the most is that Title I in Boise is and I'm quoting here a “school wide program plan.” What does that mean?

Boise Independent School District
Boise Independent School District
Stacey Roth is the Student and Federal Programs Administrator for the Boise Independent School District.

ROTH: So, with Title I, you have two options. You can have a targeted plan or you can have a school wide plan. And in Boise, we have chosen to be school wide because we feel it impacts all students in that school. So,, we have a larger impact. So what that means is all students at our Title I elementary schools receive the services to help close the achievement gap. So, they receive additional support in reading, additional support in math, additional parent engagement and enrichment opportunities compared to a targeted program which would just identify certain students. We feel by serving all students in these schools, we have a greater impact.

PRENTICE: How do you measure success?

ROTH: That's a great question. So first, our schools all do needs assessments because we want to ensure that we are targeting…we are putting our resources to the areas that need the most attention. So, we look at our needs assessments as far as math, reading scores, and then we develop a plan, a school wide Tile I plan of how we're going to meet those needs. We do benchmark assessments along the way to ensure that we're meeting those. We don't want to wait the full school year to make sure that we're having success. And then we do end-of-year assessments. So, we monitor success by some of our standardized tests. We also measure success by pre and post test student attendance. There's a whole myriad of data points that we look at.

PRENTICE: Indeed, this proposal is…well, it's historic. And again, it's a proposal. But can you give me a sense of why Idaho in general and the Boise School District in particular would need more help, more funding for Title I?

Boise Independent School District
Boise Independent School District

ROTH: So, with this pandemic, we have seen the needs grow with our families. And so, we would like to have extra resources to help support those students who have fallen behind. We know a lot of students have kept up. Lots of students have exceeded our expectations. But we also know we have students and families that need additional support. So extra funding would allow us to give extra attention to those kids, whether it's hiring an additional person at that school…another huge need for us is the mental health of our students. So, Title I would also allow us to address that need, as well as parent engagement and parent enrichment, because we know students are more successful in their academic career if their parents are more involved. And so additional Title I support gives us an opportunity to bring parents in and to educate parents so they can then in-turn help with their students.

PRENTICE: I would be remiss if I did not say that I'm talking to a TWIN honoree and TWIN is Tribute to Women and Industry, Stacey Roth would have been honored in-person in 2020. Due to the pandemic, that did not happen. So, Stacey, in front of, well, everyone that we can muster. Congratulations for that. That's a pretty big deal. And a quick glance at social media informs me that you are very well-respected in your profession. So, kudos to you and your colleagues.

ROTH: Well, thank you, George. I have the privilege of working with an amazing team that are always putting students and their families first. So, thank you.

PRENTICE: She is Stacey Roth, student and federal programs administrator for the Boise School District. e, have a good morning and a good rest of your week.

ROTH: Thank you, George, you as well.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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