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|Parish schools land $8 million for at-risk students|
Ouachita Parish Schools will get roughly $8 million in federal funding to hire additional teachers and implement programs next school year to better help children who are considered at-risk students.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said Tuesday the school board will receive about $4 million in "special education dollars" over a two-year period. The money will be made available through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Also, the school system will receive another $4 million from the Title 1 Program.
"This stimulus money is intended to be used to help at-risk children and children who need special education services attending at-risk schools, or Title 1 schools," Webber said. "It is to be used in any way we can to help academic performance among those students."
The school system has already received recommendations from the directors of the federal programs on how best to use the funding, Webber said.
He said some money will be used to provide additional teachers in at-risk schools to help students while other dollars will be spent on materials and services such as tutoring and transportation assistance.
"We will have to turn in a budget on how we are spending the money," Webber said. "There are certain ways we are required to spend the monies we receive."
The money was funneled to the Louisiana Department of Education, which distributes the money to individual school systems based on the number of students in special education and the number of Title 1 schools in each system.
About 52 percent of the students in Ouachita Parish Schools is considered at-risk.
"Typically the term at-risk can involve a lot of different conditions of the student," Webber explained. "One way we use it is by looking at free-and-reduced lunches.
"If a school has a student body that is at least 40 percent free-and-reduced, they meet the requirements to be listed as a Title 1 school, and therefore they are able to receive Title 1 funds. But at-risk can include other factors such as students' performance -- students who score under a certain rate on their iLeap and Leap tests. And, an at-risk student can be one who is receiving special education services. It's a term that can be used very vaguely."
The school system recently began receiving the federal funding. The additional teachers and services for at-risk students will be implemented for the upcoming school year, Webber said.
"We're tickled to death to receive this money and we will put it to good use," Webber said. "Hopefully it will help our students."