Baltimore schools lost thousands in free lunch switch

Baltimore schools lost thousands in free lunch switch (WBFF FILE)

BALTIMORE (AP) - A switch to a universal free lunch program three years ago has unintentionally cost some of Baltimore's high-poverty public schools thousands of dollars in other federal funding, leading to staff and program cuts.

The Baltimore Sun reports Baltimore City's public school district had to change how it classified poor students. Previously, if a student qualified for free and reduced-price meals, they were considered poor; to be counted now, students' families must participate in federal public assistance programs, which set a higher threshold for poverty level and tend to undercount immigrants.

The district still gets the same amount of Title I funding, but as it uses poverty rates to allocate the money, high-poverty schools with large immigrant populations have been hit hard.

The State Board of Education is working on a standard method to determine poverty rates.

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