It’s the most compliant time of the year! Well, maybe our friends in the Office of Grants Compliance would say that the entire school year is the most compliant time of the year but we think there’s no better way for our families to start the new calendar year than by attending their school’s Annual Winter Title I Meeting. Never mind being compliant for the moment, though. Let’s focus on the productive conversations that take place at a school’s Winter Title I meeting…
First, let’s understand what Title I and Title I meetings are. Title I, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act provides federal financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. Generally speaking, schools have three Title I meetings a year with the school community: one in the fall, one in the winter, and one in the spring. Each meeting has a different purpose and agenda and involves the entire school community. These meetings are often combined with School Advisory Council (SAC) meetings, because the goals of a school’s SAC and the objectives of a Title I meeting are usually aligned. Members of the SAC, Home and School Association, Friends Of group, or other parent-led organizations are highly encouraged to be a part of this process, but one does not have to be a specifically assigned member of one of these groups as all members of the school community are welcome!
The first thing that usually takes place at a Winter Title I meeting is the development of the school-wide plan, an important conversation that any school stakeholder should participate in. This is yet another opportunity to provide input and feedback on the vision, planning, process, and actions taken to plan for the next school year. Why is this important? When a school and its stakeholders work in unison to create a school plan, positive change and relationships can be forged. For instance, when parents are actively engaged in the school planning process there are often positive impacts on student attendance rates and student behavior which are determinants for student academic achievement. A key part of this discussion starts around the school’s budget which is a focal point of the Winter Title I Meeting.
Parents and caregivers are also highly encouraged to be a part of the school’s annual budget conversation with school principals. School budgets can be a tricky process – there are differences between operating dollars versus grant dollars. There are required staff/teaching positions and supplemental positions to think about. There are professional development, extracurricular activities, books, materials, and supplies to consider. Not to mention those “set aside” family engagement dollars. This is a great time for parents and caregivers to learn about all of the components of a school budget, share their thoughts and opinions on budget priorities and decisions, and gain clarity on the decision-making process when principals create their school budgets. It’s also a great chance for principals to explain these components and shed light on the decision-making process, creating an opportunity for better communication and transparency in the school community.
The FACE office turns into the “Smiley FACE” office when we know that parents and families are engaged at the school level and have access to all the information they need to support their child’s education. So be sure to find out when your school’s Winter Tile I meeting date is scheduled to take place and even more importantly, show up and be heard!