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Metro Schools receives more than $4 million in School Improvement Grants for 2015-16

Funding is renewable for 2-4 more years, could top $11 million total by 2020

Six of Metro Schools’ priority schools are starting the new year with an infusion of funding to help accelerate turnaround efforts. Combined, the schools will receive more than $3 million this year with the possibility of another $5 million over the following four years. The money comes from a School Improvement Grant (SIG) awarded by the federal government through the Tennessee Department of Education.

In addition to the school-based SIG awards, the district will receive a $1 million innovation zone grant for the upcoming school year to provide leadership, oversight and support for priority schools. This grant is renewable for two more years for a total of $3 million, meaning altogether Metro Schools could receive more than $11 million by 2020 for district and school support in turning around priority schools.

The six schools and their award amounts are:

  Year 12015-16 Year 22016-17 Year 32017-18 Year 42018-19 Year 52019-20 5 Year Total
Inglewood Elementary $399,000 $399,000 $391,000 $113,900 $90,500 $1,393,400
KIPP at Kirkpatrick Elementary $270,000 $204,910 $182,907 $657,817
Whitsitt Elementary $364,550 $243,800 $243,800 $102,500 $78,300 $1,032,950
Jere Baxter Middle $402,000 $295,315 $240,000 $150,000 $75,000 $1,162,315
Madison Middle $762,030 $198,200 $124,600 $73,600 $73,600 $1,232,030
Pearl-Cohn High $853,842 $793,800 $793,800 $150,000 $100,000 $2,691,442
TOTAL $3,051,422 $2,135,025 $1,976,107 $590,000 $417,400 $8,169,954

“We feel very fortunate to receive these grants, and the money will be put to good use right away supporting students, teachers and school leaders in this important work,” said Dr. Euna McGruder, the district’s new executive officer for priority schools. “Just as much as they need this additional funding, these schools need support from the district and the community. That’s what my office is tasked with doing. We will work closely with principals and teachers to ensure they have what they need to give students the high-achieving education they deserve. We have high expectations, but we also have high hopes for success.”

Priority schools are those listed in the bottom five percent statewide in terms of raw achievement scores. The SIG money is to be used to focus on three areas that are most critical in turning around high-need schools: strong leadership, effective instruction and time for learning. If these schools are able to demonstrate progress and growth, the awards can be renewed for up to four more years, with the final two years designed to promote sustainability of newly instituted programs.

Students at priority schools will benefit from targeted interventions focused on reading and math, developed by school leaders based on their individual schools’ needs. Inglewood and Whitsitt Elementary Schools will also use SIG funds to expand prekindergarten offerings and better align learning from pre-K through fourth grade. At three of the six schools receiving SIG funds, students will get an extended school day with 30-45 minutes added to their daily schedules:

  • Jere Baxter Middle Prep – 8:25 a.m. – 3:55 p.m. (30 minutes more)
  • Madison Middle Prep – 8:15 a.m. – 3:55 p.m. (40 minutes more)
  • Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School – 7:00 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. (45 minutes more)

This extra learning time is a requirement of receiving SIG funds under the turnaround model used at these schools. Central office leadership will help support school efforts by implementing high-quality professional development for teachers, finding appropriate instructional strategies for extended learning time and helping develop intervention programs to meet students’ needs.

School leaders in each of these six schools began work last spring on developing school improvement plans, which became the basis for their SIG applications. By starting this work months ahead of the first day of school, they were able to conduct a full review of their schools and develop ways to address historical challenges. Of the district’s 12 priority schools, eight were eligible for SIG funding. Joelton Middle, Neely’s Bend Middle and Kirkpatrick Elementary did not receive SIG funds but will be part of the district’s innovation zone and will benefit from the district-level grant. The remaining four priority schools were previous recipients of SIG money and therefore ineligible to apply.

Teachers report to priority schools July 27, a full week ahead of their peers at other schools, to get a head start on the new year. Students return to school August 5.