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Federal funds for low-income students are likely dropping, just as San Diego Unified plans to enroll more low-income kids.

That adds up to less dollars per student when kids go back to school next fall — at least 17 percent less, according to a report prepared by district staff.

School districts receive federal Title 1 funds to help disadvantaged students make the grade. High-poverty schools and districts get higher sums. And San Diego Unified gives high-poverty schools more money per student than low-poverty schools, using a three-tiered formula.

This year, schools with more than 85 percent low-income students got $472 per student; schools with between 60 and 84 percent low-income students got $270 per student, and schools with between 40 and 59 percent low-income students got $140 per student. Under the national No Child Left Behind law, schools with less than 40 percent low-income students are not eligible for the funding.

In San Diego, school district staff is projecting a 5 percent drop in Title 1 funding for school year 2008-2009, cutting total funding to $43.5 million. At the same time, the district expects 1,200 more low-income students to enroll in San Diego Unified schools, squeezing the already-reduced funds. So the amount per student is projected to drop at least 17 percent.

Title 1 money also pays for bussing kids at low-scoring schools to tutoring programs, and to other schools if they opt out of their neighborhood school.

EMILY ALPERT

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