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Four schools earn Title I distinction
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Forsyth County News
Four of Forsyth County’s public schools have been recognized by the state as Title I Distinguished Schools.

The distinction is reserved for Title I schools which make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, for at least three consecutive years.

Title I schools have a specific population of economically disadvantaged students and receive federal funding to help educate them.

Chestatee, Cumming and Midway elementary schools, as well as Otwell Middle, received the honor, which comes with a small monetary award.

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox said in a statement that the “districts and schools are a prime example of the impact high expectations, hard work and collaboration can have on student achievement.”

Brenda Schulz, Forsyth’s academic support director, said the system’s two other Title I schools, Little Mill Middle and Forsyth Central High, were not eligible because they have had the status for fewer than three years.

“It’s wonderful,” Schulz said of the honor. “When you consider that we have six schools, two of them aren’t even eligible for the funds, and our other four that are eligible are all distinguished ... So in a sense, we’re 100 percent.”

None of Forsyth’s schools has schoolwide Title I status, which requires half the student population to be below the system’s average poverty level.

The six have what is called targeted assistance Title I status, because they have a poverty population higher than the county’s average poverty level, which is 15.8 percent.

Schulz said the federal funding is based on census and poverty data. School poverty levels are based on free and reduced lunch numbers. At 34 percent, Midway Elementary has the highest local rate.

Statewide, 896 schools received the Title I Distinguished Schools recognition. In 2003, 116 schools were recognized.

Schools with the distinguished distinction for four or more years receive additional funding and a certificate.

Cumming Elementary will receive $1,068. Otwell Middle and Midway Elementary schools are in line to each get $712, while Chestatee Elementary will receive a certificate.

Schulz said the funding must help students identified as needing academic support.

Making adequate progress every year is what Schulz calls “a united effort.”

“It has to be a schoolwide focus on making sure those students are getting the support they need,” she said.

“A huge part of Title I is parent involvement, so you have to also attribute the parents’ support for that. It’s a united effort between schools, teachers, students and parents.”