As the academic year winds down, some districts find themselves with extra Title I funding dollars on hand. In this era of tightening budgets, spare funds can hardly be called a problem. However, given the stipulations surrounding federal funding, making sure that spend-down dollars are maximized does require some careful planning.
The first round of 2016-2017 Title I funding will be released on July 1st, which means all 2015-16 funds must be used no later than June 30th. As your school or district begins to consider how best to use your spend-down dollars, keep these five considerations in mind:
1. Sequester funds won’t be required for 2016-17
One of the most significant changes to Title I funding for the 2016-17 school year is that districts will no longer be required to set aside any “sequester” funds. That means that any currently sequestered dollars your district has can be spent down. As you plan for spend down, find out if your district has any sequestered money that will become available before the June 30th deadline, and whether or not it is already earmarked for a specific purpose.
2. Pool Title I funding with other federal funds for greater flexibility
Keep in mind the different ways that federal funds can be utilized. Districts do have the option to pool Title I funds with other federal funds to leverage towards schoolwide programs. Using federal funds in this manner gives districts and schools more flexibility to make a greater impact with remaining spend-down dollars.
3. Focus on intervention programming
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) strongly encourages the use of federal funds, including Title I, to support Response to Intervention (RTI) or Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS) programs. Consider using those dollars to expand your intervention programs in order to further personalize learning and raise achievement for struggling students.
4. Build on what’s working
Needless to say, student success is the ultimate goal of all school programs. So, when thinking about where your spend-down dollars should go, a great place to start is to simply look at your current Title I funded programming and evaluate what has been most effective. Then, find opportunities to augment those programs, such as by expanding software license subscriptions or offering professional development sessions for teachers.
5. Think outside the school day
For many students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting, after school and summer programs can be incredibly effective. It’s important to remember that Title I funds can be applied to these kind of programs. Whether you’re looking to implement or expand after school and summer programming, spend-down funding can provide a great opportunity to enhance these offerings in order to meet the needs of more students.
Looking for additional resources to navigate the complex issues that surround federal funding programs? Check out our funding and grant information or find out how you can meet Title I requirements with Edmentum solutions!