- How may preschool programs be funded under Title I?
- How may district-operated Title I preschool programs be funded?
- How may Title I preschool programs use funds?
- May a Local Education Agency (LEA) or school use Title I funds to identify eligible preschool children?
- May a portion of Title I funds be used to provide preschool participants with comprehensive services?
- Must Title I preschools meet the supplement-not-supplant requirement?
- Are preschool staff and student enrollment included when determining a school’s student-to-instructional staff ratios for comparability purposes?
- How can an LEA fund a Title I preschool program with limited funds
There are several ways in which preschool programs may be funded under Title I. For example—
- A participating school may use its Title I funds to operate a preschool program.
- An LEA may reserve an amount from the LEA’s total allocation to operate a Title I preschool program for eligible children in the district as a whole or for a portion of the district.
An LEA may reserve an amount from the LEA’s total allocation and distribute those funds to specific Title I schools or other comparable public early childhood education programs to operate Title I preschool programs. Head Start, Even Start, and Early Reading First are examples of such programs.
An LEA may use funds to provide direct services, such as staff salaries or fringes, equipment, supplies, and so on. An LEA may also use funds to extend services. For example, an LEA may use Title I funds to extend existing preschool services in order to provide more intensity and sustained program. Some options include:
- Purchasing “slots” by paying a per-pupil cost in a high-quality program;
- Extending hours in the instructional day;
- Extending days in a school-week; and
- Providing summer school programming.
Generally, it is the responsibility of an LEA and schools to use information it already has available to identify at-risk children. However, if an LEA has no existing assessment data for preschool children, Title I funds may be used for identifying these children.
Yes. If preschool children have need for health, nutrition, and other social services, a portion of Title I funds in a targeted assistance school may be used to address those needs, if appropriate, based on a comprehensive needs assessment and if funds are not reasonably available from other public or private sources.
Generally, preschool should not be considered a grade-span for comparability purposes unless the state considers preschool to be part of elementary and secondary education.
Early childhood is actually considered a very cost-effective use of money because early investment in interventions helps reduce or prevent later costs related to remediation, special education services, and so on. While most district coordinators recognize the benefits of proactive interventions in early childhood programming, they are hesitant to reallocate funds away from students who are currently receiving support. However, in the current fiscal climate, most districts are unable to fund additional programming for early childhood students. Such districts may consider:
- Expanding existing early childhood programs (e.g. four-year-old kindergarten, Head Start, and so on) by lengthening the day or the week for Title I students;
- Purchasing “seats” in existing programs (e.g. private daycare and preschool programs, Head Start, and so on) for Title I students;
- Reserving Title I funds to develop one, district-wide targeted program serving the most at-risk students from across the district; or
- Consolidating funds within a schoolwide program. Schoolwide programs only need to address the intents and purposes of the combined programs and ensure the needs of the intended beneficiaries of the combined programs are met. For example, in a schoolwide program, a Title II, Part A dollar need not be tracked to an allowable Title II professional development activity as long as the school can demonstrate that the intents and purposes of Title II were addressed generally in the program.
There are some exceptions, however. Schoolwide programs are still required to meet all programmatic requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In addition, programs must still meet program-linked requirements relating to health, safety, civil rights, student and parental participation and involvement, services to private school children, maintenance of effort, uses of federal funds to supplement, not supplant non-federal funds, and the distribution of funds to state and location educational agencies. Finally, the authority to combine federal funds only applies to programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education.”