District 51 gleans ideas to combat poverty
Instruction in School District 51’s highest-poverty schools is likely to change after a trip 12 local administrators took earlier this month to the National Title I Conference in Tampa, Fla.
Principals and assistant principals from Chatfield, Chipeta, Clifton, Dos Rios, Dual Immersion Academy, Fruitvale, Nisley, Pear Park and Rocky Mountain elementary schools attended the conference Jan. 31 through Feb. 3. Each of those schools are Title I schools, meaning at least 40 percent of students attending those schools receive free or reduced school meals.
The trip raised some eyebrows in a tough budget year. District 51 Executive Director of Elementary Schools Andy Laase said the money for the trip came solely from Title I funding, which comes from the federal government. Laase said he isn’t sure exactly what the trip cost, but the price tag fell within the federal requirement that up to 10 percent of the funding has to be spent on professional development for Title I educators.
“That money can’t be spent on supplies or hiring teachers or anything other than professional learning,” Laase said, and it cannot be spent on teachers or administrators in non-Title I schools. “I think it was a very worthwhile trip. Yes, we could have spent it in a different way in professional learning, but highly effective schools have to have highly effective leaders.”
Laase said the conference, which was not equipped for Web-conferencing, included seminars hosted by several schools throughout the country with high-poverty student populations and good academic and behavior performance. Administrators discussed what they learned at the conference each day and will meet again next week to decide how to apply the knowledge they gleaned from the conference in local Title I schools.
“I think you’re going to see some changing in what we’re trying to do with literacy, so it’s more explicit at younger levels, more focus on vocabulary and phonics, and instruction being even more direct and explicit and intense than it is now,” Laase said.