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Leon County Title 1 schools have the talent, need support

40 percent of students in the district come from low-income households
Posted at 1:13 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 13:13:51-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Over half the schools in Leon County are considered Title 1. That means about 40 percent of students in the district come from low-income households.

“Education is the pillar of success,” said April Knight, who is the new director of Title 1 schools for Leon County.

Title 1 is a federally funded program to close educational achievement gaps. Part of Knight’s plan includes clearing up some of the misconceptions about what Title 1 is and means.

“I want people to understand that Title 1 is a funding source,” said Knight. “It’s not a building, it’s not a person. And know that the talent is in our Title 1 schools. We just need to provide the opportunities for our children and families to be successful.”

Knight brings a unique perspective to this new role. She was a student at John G. Riley Elementary and returned years later to be the school’s principal in 2019.

“I think that gives her an extra incentive and street credit when it comes to dealing with parents and working with people,” said Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

As the Director of Title 1 schools, Knight wants to work with each Title 1 school in the district to find out exactly what their major needs are. For some students and families, it could be a situation of poverty or homelessness.

Providing support comes down to resources, which often vary from school to school.

“My school needs this, which may be different from our closest neighbor Pineview Elementary right down the street,” said Sabal Palm Elementary School principal Anicia Robinson. “They may have a different need at their school. And that need may change from month to month.”

Both Knight and Robinson are also asking for continued support from community partners. Those extra funds can be used outside of academics by providing food and toiletries to students in need.

Parent workshops are also part of the programs funded through Title 1. Those will be provided throughout the school year. If there’s a need that isn’t being met, parents are encouraged to contact their child’s principal.