LISD working to help impoverished students

LISD working to help impoverished students
Posted on 04/11/2018
Superintendent's Column

Superintendent's Column 

Every student deserves to learn in an environment that is inclusive and responsive to their needs. As educators, we know that some students face challenges impacting their ability to reach their full academic potential because of factors outside of their control.

Federal food service guidelines define poverty as a family of four making $25,000 a year or less. It must be incredibly difficult to live, much less learn, on that kind of income. I made less when I was a beginning teacher, but 30 years ago, that was a living wage.

In Leander ISD, we have a relatively low percentage of students living in poverty – about 19 percent. Statewide, that number is nearly 60 percent. While LISD has a low number of impoverished students compared to the state, it is very sobering to realize that nearly one in five LISD students has to struggle for the basic necessities in life.

That is where public education can make such an incredible difference in the life of a young person faced with these challenges. Indeed, our teachers and staff may be some of the few lifelines available to students that must overcome so much more to achieve at a high academic level. Through federal funding known as Title I, LISD can assist students with additional academic, social and nutritional support so that they can better concentrate on learning.

At last week’s board meeting, the trustees decided to apply for a federal waiver to obtain more flexibility in LISD’s Title I funding to better serve schools with high economically disadvantaged student populations. Currently, the district has 14 Title I campuses, with nine schools served as “Targeted” assistance campuses (targeting certain students only) and five schools designated for “Schoolwide” assistance. (Under the waiver, the district would double the amount of campuses it serves with schoolwide Title I funding.)

Our incredible teachers and staff have a shared dedication to each student that walks through the doors of one of our schools. And their perseverance is paying off: 95 percent of our economically disadvantaged students graduate in four years. This figure increases for some students after five years of high school. To the roughly 7,000 LISD students that live in poverty, I affirm our commitment that LISD will continue to work every day to make sure their time as our students is marked by success and achievement.