BC students not ‘disadvantaged’ enough to receive Title One funds


Drawing by Gabriella Backus

Gabriella Backus, Editor-In-Chief

As the bell rings and people funnel into a long line, students wait impatiently to order their lunch. Little do they know, a fellow classmate is going to frolic to the front of the line and pay 69 cents for their lunch while they’re stuck paying $3.59 for theirs.
Such a scenario is surprisingly common, as approximately 59.6 percent of Bear Creek’s students are reported as socioeconomically disadvantaged — coming from low-income families — on online student population tracker CA Dashboard.
As stated on the website Student Debt Relief, the Free and Reduced Lunch program is a federal program designed to “upgrade the complete educational program… [thus] raising academic achievement for all the students.”
Because the Free and Reduced Lunch program is federally funded, Bear Creek must apply to receive funds from the Title One financial aid program. Title One funds for education are allocated from the federal government to the state government and then to local education agencies, also known as school districts. Each school district then determines which schools within their district receive Title One funding. If a LUSD school’s percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students is over 75 percent, it qualifies for funding.
Ronald E. McNair High School, with a socioeconomically disadvantaged percentage of 79.6 percent, is currently the only LUSD high school that receives Title One funding.
“When you compare our affluence level — although it’s not to say we don’t have students in need — to Stockton in general, we tend to have lower rates,” Principal Hillary Harrell said.
To apply for Free and Reduced Lunch, which reduces lunch price from $3.25 to $0.66 and includes an AP test waiver that lowers the price from $94 to $64 per test, a student must fill out a form found in the counseling office. The form asks for the student’s annual household income and the number of people in their household. The student must also reapply every year, but is given a one month “grace period” to reapply to ensure they do not go without what may be their only meal of the day.
While the program is useful for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, a student can easily edit their parents’ income on the form to qualify — parents may even lie themselves to bypass paying seemingly avoidable fees.
Cafeteria supervisor Elie Everton says that, while it is inevitable students will cheat the system, the primary goal of the program is to provide nutrition to any student in need, not to point fingers.
“It’s very rare we have somebody that is [lying],” Everton said. “A lot of parents [edit their income] under the table, but we can’t prove that. We’re here to feed the kid; whether Mom or Dad is lying about it, that’s not our decision to make.”
Everton says that having a high percentage of low-income students can be beneficial: Title One schools receive funds per pupil that qualifies, so when the numbers of disadvantaged students rise, so does the funding a school receives.
“If we feed more kids, we have more labor costs and food costs,” Everton said. “Therefore we get more funding. The higher our money, the better the menu items.”
Although Bear Creek does not receive Title One funding, it receives around $59,000 annually in supplemental funds linked to LUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). LCAP — state-wide grouping of funds in various categories, such as Low Income and Foster Youth — is designed to supplement the most basic elements of school to enrich students’ experiences.
Harrell has primarily used the funds to enhance Bear Creek’s educational programs. In the past, she has spent LCAP money on the Promethean boards; professional development, such as training in AVID; and event transportation costs.
“Our job is to get very creative and use the funds available to provide the best educational experience to our students,” Categorical Program Manager Josephine Fierro said.

59.6% of Bear Creek’s students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Does this mean this can apply for the Free or Reduced lunch, or that they already have?
Have applied. There are a couple ways of measuring socioeconomic status. The way cali does is through the federal free and reduced lunch program. We recieve federal funds for the number of students on f&r. There are other ways; one is the educational rate of mothers.
Where is the money taken out of to support these kids? Does our school/district take any kind of loss for funneling so much (how much) money to it?
Title 1 federal funds for education are allocated from the fed gov to the state to local education agencies (district). District then determines who recieves title one funding, because they have a high perc. Of studnts on free and reduced lunch. Most schools in California are still sitting in 40% (s/e dis). Some don’t apply, they are Basic Aide. Lodi is abt 50. Tokay is mid 60s. McNair is almost at 70. McNair is the only comprehensive high school called Title One, then Tokay, not us. When you compare our affluence level, (its not to say we dont have students in need) to Stockton in general, we tend to have lower rates. Delta Sierra is title one, Christa is one. We have a handfull of elementary that are Title One.
Not to say BC doesn’t benefit from federal funds, we do. We recieve supplemental funds that are L-Cap linked andI’m supposed to use the money to support low s/e students. It meets 3 L-Cap goals.We have primarily focused on enrichment and enhancement, which supplements the educational programs. For example, I spent money ont he Promenthian boards, Speech and Debate, professional develpoment (AVID, PBIS, etc), transportation costs. I seee the money as, I’m supposed to give the students with s/e a leg up. I give them the same access to high rigor and competition as kids who go to school in Malibu. We get 56 thou a year.
What proof do kids need to show to apply for the Free or Reduced Lunch
Form in the attendance and counseling office.
W2 (taxes)?
Reapply every year after one month grace period.
I’m a little distanced from it because federally it’s mandated that administrators don’t know what students are on free and reduced lunch.
How often do kids cheat the program, and how have you seen this happen?
I haven’t noticed anyone who has. Talk to food services; I know there’s a concern about the system, and I’m sure that there are.
Technically, a small percentage of our students qualify as needing free & reduced, and we don’t qualify as Title One. Do you believe the program is helpful enough or do we need more? Less? Do you believe we struggle because we don’t meet the qualifications for Title One?
That is one of my largest fears and worries. A large portion of my job is allocating resources to meet your needs. My concern is, do I have enough resources? Do I meet the need of our most needy students? I enviously look at McNair’s budget. I’m pretty good at spending money; I was the only high school principal who spent under my 10%, taken over to the next year. About $100,000.
I want that so bad! There are a lot of requirements and paperwork, but I’d still like it.I think we do well with the resources we have. Our budget is over 300,000. I don’t feel that we allocate resources efficiently in California. Its really easy for me to criticuze, I’m not a lawmaker.

What proof do kids need to show to apply for the Free or Reduced Lunch?
The form goes to the district office. We have a program that we can see the status of the students.
How often do kids cheat the program, and how have you seen this happen?
At a later date, they have to show proof. They can be accepted right away, but they have to show proof, like your W2 forms or tax returns. We have to give them time to show proof, so there’s a timeline of I beleive three . Its very rare we have somebody that is, a lto of parents under the table but we can’t prove that. We’re here to feed the kid, whether mom or dad is lying about it, that’s not our decision to make.
small percentage of our students qualify as needing free & reduced, and we don’t qualify as Title One. Do you believe the program is helpful enough or do we need more?
We do try to work with kids that are not eating, but wehne we get to a high school level, but its more of a social thing than necessarily neeidng it, more kids on f&r buy a la carte and they’re more than willing to pay for that.
It’ll impact our numbers. If we have more free kids, more kids would eat with us. Like if we had a hgher percentage of ree and refuced would eat with us which would bring our numbers up, which means the state pays us more. Extreemely beneficial. If we feed more kid, we have more labor costs, food costs, stuff like that, there fore we get more . the higher our moneys, the higher the menu items.