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Census results might have impact on schools

Residents all across the country will begin receiving invitations this month to complete the 2020 Census. There will be three ways to respond through online, phone and email. However, residents who do not respond will be visited in person by Census takers throughout the months of May- July.

The Census can be quickly completed and has a lasting impact in the community. The results from the 2020 Census help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade, according to the 2020 Census website.

Many don’t realize this federal funding impacts the schools, and the results help determine how the money is allocated for school programs.

Superintendent Tim Cochran explained how important it is to fill out the Census, especially when it comes to families in poverty.

The Decatur County School System is able to provide free and reduced lunch for all students, due to the high poverty rate in Decatur County. However, if a large amount of the poverty-stricken population were to go uncounted, everyone would no longer be able to eat free.

“An accurate count of our families will ensure we get the proper funding for our school nutrition programs,” Cochran said.

In addition to school nutrition, funding also impacts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, the Federal Pell Grant Program, Head Start and Career and Technical education Grants.

Cochran also pointed out that the Title 1 money they have is also all federal money, which creates grants for local educational agencies. The count additionally impacts the number of legislative districts in an area. Legislators often advocate for schools and their needs, which is another reason the count is so important.

“Say 5% of the area didn’t get counted, that’s a huge amount of our students whose needs are unaccounted for,” Cochran said.

Cochran encourages everyone to fill out their Census 2020 forms and help provide information that will impact the students and programs of the Decatur County School System for years to come.