Austin ranks as high poverty district

Published 7:53 am Wednesday, October 20, 2010

According to state numbers, Austin Public Schools is a high-poverty level district.

About 2,233 students, or almost half of the district’s students, are enrolled in free and reduced lunch programs, according to Minnesota Department of Education estimates released Tuesday. These numbers are accurate as of Oct. 1 and indicate, among other things, how much money the district will receive in compensatory revenue from the state.

While the number of students who enrolled in the programs is slightly lower than last year’s report, the district is scheduled to receive an estimated $3,369,000 in funds next year which will go towards helping kids who are struggling in classrooms get the attention they need to catch up.

Email newsletter signup

Free and reduced lunch student numbers are often used to calculate various funding the district receives, including Title I funding and Minnesota State High School League grants for student participation. This is because it’s considered an indicator of the level of poverty in a community, and by correlation an approximation of how much need a district has to give extra attention to students.

“When you’re poor as a family, it means that child has fewer opportunities to experience,” Superintendent David Krenz said during a referendum presentation Tuesday.

The district has received a startlingly increasing amount of compensatory revenue over the past several years, from an estimated $1.34 million in 2003 to a little more than $3.5 million this year. Yet the total enrollment has increased only slightly, from 4,130 students in the fall of 2002 to 4,497 students at the beginning of the month.