How does an elementary school adjust to a steep and rapid rise in the number of poor children coming through its doors?
With programs to build language and technological literacy, resilient character, and ties to the community, says Brett Wilfrid, principal of Sandburg Elementary School, 4114 Donald Drive, on Madison’s far east side.
“When people come and spend time in this school, they see a lot of happy children and adults. It is a wonderful, thriving community,” Wilfrid told me in a phone interview Thursday.
I spoke with Wilfrid after a Cap Times data report published this week showed that Sandburg Elementary had the greatest increase in the Madison School District — 34.3 percentage points — in the number of children from low-income families in the past decade.
The percentage of low-income children, based on eligibility for free or reduced price lunch, rose from 37.9 percent of Sandburg enrollment in the 2003-2004 school year to 72.2 percent this year.
(One district evening program to help students who have left school to get their high school diplomas saw a slightly higher rate of increase, 35.4 percent, in the percentage of low-income students enrolled.)