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Teachers argue Willard Alternative High School deserves piece of federal funding in Missoula

January 17, 2013View for printing

Willard's status as a program precludes it from receiving Title I funds, regardless of the needs of the students who go there.

A few years ago, a math teacher at Willard Alternative High School became frustrated with the shortage of calculators in her classroom. Her Algebra I class had 12 students. Willard owned only seven graphing calculators. Students had to take turns or share.

The math teacher brought the issue to Willard Principal Jane Bennett, who explained the school's budget was as tight as it is every year. They couldn't afford more calculators. Bennett asked Missoula County Public Schools for help. An exception was made: MCPS would use federal Title I funds to buy five new calculators for Willard. On the surface, this seemed appropriate. Helping disadvantaged high school students get new calculators is exactly the sort of thing for which Title I is meant. What made this case an exception is that Willard Alternative High School isn't a school at all.

by Jamie Rogers

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