DOBSON — Surry County Schools Director of Federal Programs Brenda Whitaker reports state department of instruction auditors found the system is compliant in its management of Federal Title 1 funds with no serious infractions found and no major changes in the way funds are tracked and documented locally.
This program provides financial assistance through state educational agencies to local educational agencies and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure all children meet state academic content and student academic achievement standards. Schools in Surry County range for 45-80 percent of students on free or reduced lunches, for instance.
“All of our schools did really well,” said Whitaker. “These preliminary findings are great. Their findings were that we were in compliance and there is a lot required in tracking all of the indicators and documenting it correctly.”
Whitaker explained the audits are conducted through the Department of Public Instruction and is done on a three-year cycle. This marks the second year she has been involved in the on-site monitoring process in her six-year term with the system.
She explained more than 50 indicators in numerous areas are looked at by the auditors. Areas examined include school improvement plans, sample documents such as surveys and discipline reports, samples of meeting notices, school level parent involvement plans, certification data, records of professional development, evidence of collaboration with community resources and samples of personal eduction plans or instructional intervention plans.
“It (the system’s use of Title 1 funds) has to be transparent,” said Whitaker. “The focus of this is to make sure you’re getting the funding and that you’re spending it wisely. This is all school-wide. It is for every child. They want the money to meet the needs.”
The audit was conducted Oct. 10-12. According to Whitaker, Surry County schools received a total of 2.4 million dollars through the program in last year’s allotment.
Some criteria programs are reviewed by include stakeholder involvement. Whitaker explained this is showing parents, staff, students and community members participate in developing, implementing and evaluating programs.
Governance, administration and funding of Title 1 programs is subject to statutory requirements and must be implemented using research-based strategies and services. Whitaker said the department checks to be sure a school system’s staff are highly qualified and professional development follows a comprehensive needs assessment of the district.
She said state and other assessments to measure achievement and intended outcomes of the programs must also be used and documented. Whitaker said traditionally all of this information is kept in a hard-copy format but plans are underway both locally and across the state to electronically capture this information.
Whitaker said she and the other school Title 1 officers are all beginning this transition with software and hardware already available in the county school system.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.