Isle schools might see
addition in federal funds

Hawaii could see an increase in federal funding under President Bush's proposed budget that covers reforms to his No Child Left Behind Act, federal education officials said yesterday.

The preliminary Title I grant data for fiscal year 2004 would boost Maui County's share of the funds by nearly 22 percent, Honolulu's share by more than 20 percent, the Big Island's share by nearly 15 percent and Kauai's by 7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Title I grants go to schools with the greatest percentage of children eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.

In Hawaii about three-fourths of the state's 281 schools qualify, according to Greg Knudsen, spokesman for the Department of Education.

More schools qualify this year because the department lowered the threshold to 35 percent of students from 45 percent, he said.

Most schools use the money for academics, such as reading programs, but they also use it to help pay for compliance with No Child Left Behind, which requires underperforming schools to offer transfers and tutors to children who need help with their studies, Knudsen said.

Schools generally make the decisions on how to spend the money.

Not every state will get more money next year: Some school districts will receive less because either the district has fewer low-income children or because the number of disadvantaged children in the district has decreased relative to other districts in the nation.

Under the president's proposed budget, Hawaii's statewide school district would receive $42.9 million in Title I grants, $6.8 million more than this year.

Honolulu schools would receive $29.5 million, an increase of $5 million over fiscal year 2003. Maui County schools would receive $3.5 million, $628,684 more than this year; Big Island schools would receive $8 million, $1 million more than this year; and Kauai schools would receive $1.9 million, $128,009 more than this year.

Meanwhile, state House Democrats offered a resolution yesterday that would ask Congress to give states waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

Other states have threatened to opt out of the president's education law and its mandates, even though that would mean the loss of federal funding, including Title I grants. Virginia, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Vermont are among states taking up bills opposing the legislation.


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