Magnets also losing out

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Magnet schools are another big loser under the new Title I formula. Of the 22 elementary schools that lost all of their Title I eligibility, 14 were magnet schools.

By the fall of 1998, Turner-Drew Language, located in Roseland, will lose $142,900; Black Magnet in Calumet Heights will lose $155,400; and Disney Magnet in Uptown will lose $287,100. Beasley Magnet, located across the street from Robert Taylor Homes, took the biggest hit. By the end of next year, the school will lose $467,900.

For the past two year, these schools benefitted because poverty counts were based in part on the neighborhoods where the schools are situated. (Prior to 1995, magnets didn’t qualify because eligibility was based in part on test scores.

Now, the poverty counts are based solely on students enrolled at the schools, and magnets tend to enroll more middle-income students than most neighborhood schools do.

For example, at Beasley, 61 percent of children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Down the block, at Terrell Elementary, 98 percent qualify.

However, Beasley knew better than to count on the money. “Every two years, they change the rules as to how they distribute the funds,” says James Foster, local school council chair. “We were thinking in terms of infrastructure so once funds diminish,” something permanent would be in place.