Expanding Early Education Services In Montgomery County Public Schools
Mar 12, 2009
Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland recently announced its plan for using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. The plan includes major expansions in special education services and greater support to schools serving disadvantaged students, otherwise known as Title I schools. The county will receive $21.4 million from the ARRA, of which $15.3 million will be targeted for special education services and $6.1 million for Title I schools. In an overwhelming show of support for the new investments, the funding plans were unanimously passed by the Montgomery County Board of Education as part of its FY 2010 operating budget. With the Title I funding, the county intends to increase the number of full-day Head Start classrooms from 13 (in 10 schools) to 21 (in 18 schools). In addition, the county plans to preserve small class sizes, increase math and reading support, and improve services for English Language Learners.
Title I funds may be used for a range of services that support quality early education. Many districts layer Title I funds with other federal, state and local funding, as Montgomery County uses Title I to extend the day for children in Head Start. The district based their decision in part on results of a recently released study, Impact of Full-Time Prekindergarten Program on Student Academic Performance. The district began using Title I to expand their part-day Head Start programs into full-day programs in ten elementary schools in 2007. The study found that children who were enrolled in full-time Head Start programs made significant gains in skills, such as reading, compared to children in half-day Head Start and prekindergarten programs. Gains were especially large for female and Hispanic students, as well as children who received English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services in the full-day Head Start classes.
Montgomery County's experience demonstrates the importance of providing full-day services to benefit both young children and their working families. Title I funding included in the recovery act can provide the resources for more school districts to follow Montgomery County's example.