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BENTONVILLE -- The School District wants to hire two more people to help support disadvantaged students and their families.

The district received more than $1.5 million in Title I money for the 2014-15 school year, almost 40 percent more than expected. Title I, Part A is assistance provided to schools by the federal government to meet the academic needs of the disadvantaged.

At A Glance

Title I

The Bentonville School District uses about 75 percent of its Title I money to pay salaries of academic interventionists at elementary and middle Title I schools: Apple Glen, Centerton Gamble, Jones, Sugar Creek and Jefferson elementary schools and Ardis Ann, Old High and Barker middle schools. Fifteen percent of the money is used for district-level expenses. The remaining 10 percent is used for material and supplies for Title I programs and professional development for teachers who serve Title I students.

Source: Bentonville School District

Julie Bachmayer is the district's only social worker. One person isn't sufficient to handle all of the district's social-work needs, said Janet Schwanhausser, federal programs director.

"We have 280 homeless families in the district," Schwanhausser said. "We are such a fortunate community, sometimes we forget we do have families in need, and those families have children in our schools."

The School Board on Monday approved spending about $90,000 of Title 1 money to hire a social worker and a community support liaison. The liaison will assist the two social workers, Schwanhausser said.

The new positions have been posted on the district's website. The district hopes to do interviews within about two weeks, Schwanhausser said Friday.

The board also approved spending another $480,000 of the unexpected Title I money on technology carts for its four elementary schools with the greatest percentages of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches: Centerton Gamble, Jones, Sugar Creek and Jefferson elementary schools. A cart of 30 iPads is about $15,000, and a cart of 30 laptop computers is about $25,000, Schwanhausser said.

District officials determined access to technology is one of the biggest needs for disadvantaged students. The devices to be purchased have been vetted to ensure they are compatible with the systems the district has in place, Schwanhausser said.

The two new positions aren't guaranteed for more than a year because the district can't predict what its Title I money will be in the future, said Michael Poore, superintendent.

Willie Cowgur, School Board member, said he hopes the district can fit the additional salaries into next year's budget anyway.

"I think it's more important than a one-year program," Cowgur said. "I think this is something we need to get behind."

Wendi Cheatham, board president, agreed. She said she hadn't been aware the district had only one social worker until administrators proposed the two new staff members.

"We definitely cannot do what we need to do as a district to serve the 280 (homeless) families, plus all the other families that need lots of help to just be successful," Cheatham said.

Poore provided an example of the need for social work within the district. He said Monday he received a call about a high school student who just learned his mother lost her job and he feared they were going to lose their house.

"So I got a hold of Julie (Bachmayer), and Julie got to the house, and she was able to get that young man righted and was able to give him hope and start to get resources to him," Poore said. "We have one social worker. It's not enough."

NW News on 09/20/2014

Print Headline: District Hiring Social Workers

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