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Park Rapids schools receive stimulus

Park Rapids Area School District will see more special education and Title I funding for the next two years due to stimulus money allotted to the district.

The district is anticipating $183,703 in Title I funding, about $81,000 more than last year, Carol Hutchinson, Park Rapids Area School District business manager told the school board Monday night. The funding will be spread over two years, she said.

Century Elementary principal Mitch Peterson and Century Middle School principal Bruce Gravalin have been working with Hutchinson on a plan to utilize the funds.

"We are looking at ... three half-time elementary teachers," Peterson said.

In the three grades that will have larger class sizes, the half-time teachers will be in during reading and math times to help out, he said. He is also looking at implementing summer school for the elementary.

"We're also looking at after school time, an hour after school, to again help Title I kids," Peterson said. "That will help with those math and reading assignments after school."

At the middle school, there will be summer school for the middle school.

"It's going to help our Title I kids for two years," Peterson said.

Title I is set up to distribute funding to school districts with a higher percentage of students from low-income families.

He was initially concerned that the money had to be spent in one year but it can be spread out for two years.

Stimulus funding is also coming for special education.

"The increase is approximately $14,000," Hutchinson said.

The stimulus dollars anticipated for special education are $361,886 to spend over two years, she said.

Title I has strict regulations that the programming is to supplement, not supplant, Hutchinson said. But the special education funding can be used to supplant, or replace something else, she said.

"My recommendation is to do a charge-back from our state special ed. fringes, not increase our maintenance of effort, do it for two years," she said.

A small amount of stimulus funding is anticipated for 3 to 5-year-olds as well. Just under $15,000 spread over two years will be available, Hutchinson said.

Working with extra federal dollars will mean "tons of accounting changes," Hutchinson said. "There's pages of new codes, there's going to be pages of new reporting."

She will be having training this summer to learn the new accounting changes.

"There's a lot we don't know yet," she said. "They're still creating codes."

Peterson said that a speaker he heard at a presentation about the stimulus funding said "after two years, be ready for the clip because it will be all gone."