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District works to close gap

December 08, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- One of every three students in the district receives free or reduced lunch.

Belle Ann Elementary has the lowest percentage eligible of any building in the district, at 25 percent; at Brandon High School, 31.92 percent of students are eligible; at Brandon Middle School, 36.7 percent are eligible and at the alternative high school, 60.5 percent students can choose to receive a free or reduced lunch.

Nearly half of Oakwood Elementary students (46.7 percent) are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and this percentage has made the school eligible for Title I funding for several years. Next year, Oakwood will not be the only school in the district eligible to use the funds delegated to schools with a high percentage of at-risk students. Harvey Swanson will share the funds, after it was determined recently that 43.76 percent of the school's population is eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Superintendent Lorrie McMahon said that the district does not receive more Title I money, but the funds can now be used at both schools. In the 2010-2011 school year, the district received $262,000 in Title I money.

McMahon and Curriculum Director Joanna McKinney are working with staffmembers in the district to identify students who may be at-risk and getting them the help that is necessary for their success in school. At-risk students, they explain, can be at-risk for a variety of reasons and do not necessarily come from low-income families.

"At-risk students are those below grade level on local and state assessments such as MEAP, MME, any local assessments, and writing samples," said McKinney.

"An at-risk student is a child who struggle academically no matter their income," added McMahon.

While Title I funding is determined by the percentage of low-income students, all at-risk students in the buildings to which funding is delegated can benefit. McMahon and McKinney will use the money at Oakwood and Harvey Swanson to offer another level of services and provide intervention. The power hour program at Oakwood offers remediation to students who haven't mastered a skill. An added literacy coach offers one-on-one attention for children, or small group help.

"We're always in discussions about how to put structures in place during the school day to address individual needs and extend their day and year," said McKinney. "We think student growth will result from attention paid to individual needs."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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