Low Achieving Schools Receive Federal Funding

by Devin Katayama on September 20, 2011

A second round of federal funds for persistently low-achieving (PLA) schools is being distributed to Jefferson County Public Schools.

Seven district schools are approved by the Kentucky Department of Education to receive one-year School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding this year. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Superintendent Donna Hargens toured Western Magnet high school today on Tuesday. Western is a first-round grant recipient. Students at Western touted its Early College Program and the support they receive from staff.

“That’s a big part of helping students master objectives, is to make sure they have some place for them to go—an expert teacher or a facilitator—to help them learn it. They talked a lot about the support of counselors and teachers and keeping them on track and motivating them,” said Hargens.

Principals of those struggling schools didn’t wait for federal funding to begin figuring out how they would improve their schools this year, said Holliday. Now over $4.5 million dollars is guaranteed to the latest list of Jefferson County PLA schools, he said. On that list is Doss, Fairdale, Iroquois, Seneca, Southern, Waggener high schools and Knight middle school.

Schools will now have the financial support to help create the student support they’ll need to pull test scores up. But Holliday was unable to confirm what might happen with the soon-to-be announced next list, or cohort, of PLA schools.

“We do anticipate and have reserve funds for year two. We’re more concerned with cohort three–if there will be any funds at all,” he said. The six JCPS schools that made last year’s list received $9 million over three years.

Students at Western Magnet High (pictured above) mentioned the effort and attention by school staff is one of the most important tools they have. And that’s what the money is for, said Hargens. The grant will pay for leadership training and develop structures so students can have the resources they’ll need to succeed.

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