The Orange County Schools Board of Education approved a request to create a new position, the Federal Programs Director, for the school system in a meeting on Monday.
Chris Gammon, executive director of curriculum and instruction for OCS, said a Federal Programs Director could provide support for the principals of Title 1 schools who are faced with the job of not only leading their schools, but also meeting the Title 1 guidelines.
Title 1 is a federal program that provides financial assistance to state educational agencies and public schools where many students live at or below the poverty level, according to the OCS website.
“It's in the best interest of our schools, you, our board, and most importantly our students and families that we have someone who can dedicate 100 percent of their time to not only ensuring we meet compliance regulations and are fiscally responsible, but to also work as a partner with our entire district leadership team so that we can now mobilize and monitor these funds,” Gammon said.
He also said that a Federal Programs Director must manage multi-million dollar budgets, adhere to strict regulations, coordinate a complex stakeholder involvement process and work collaboratively across the organization to monitor and oversee each element of the various programs.
“This includes school, family, community outreach, data analysis, budget planning, conducting comprehensive needs assessments, writing, constantly expanding grant applications and those details as well as amending those over time,” Gammon said.
The request for the position was initially raised on Sept. 26, according to Joyce Hatcher, chief of human capital and organizational development officer for OCS.
Meredith Maier, the principal of Title 1 school New Hope Elementary School, said Title 1 schools have drastically different needs than non-Title 1 schools, so they receive hundreds of thousands of additional dollars.
With this extra money comes complex requirements and issues that often fall on principals, Maier said.
Maier also said there is a need for support, as three out of the four principals in Title 1 elementary schools in the county are in their first year or starting their second year as administrators.
Maier said she is new to OCS, but that she has had previous experience as a Title 1 coordinator in her previous school district.
“Because I am deeply familiar with the demand of Title 1 compliance and the intensity that comes along with those tens of thousands of dollars, I wanted to share the absolute importance of a role like the one that is proposed here tonight, in supporting principles with the task of managing all of those hundreds of thousand dollars, per school, in federal funding each year,” Maier said.
Hatcher added that there are 116 school districts and local education agencies in North Carolina, and 100 of these districts already have this position.
Denise Greene, the chief academic officer for OCS said there have been missed opportunities without this position.
“There are a lot of resources, a lot of funds out there provided under the federal guidelines and federal umbrella, that we don’t know about,” Greene said. “The reason we don't know about it is that we don’t have the time and the resources, or someone who is dedicated to helping find out about the resources.”
She said, with the addition of this position, the school system can provide opportunities that students may be missing out on, as well as begin to address achievement gaps, opportunity gaps and other areas in OCS school systems.
Rhonda Rath, the chief finance officer for OCS, said the position would be funded using the board has been able to capture from federal grants, as there has been a dramatic increase in these funds in the last year.
Board member Jennifer Moore moved to approve the position, and it was passed in a 4-3 vote.
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