The Oklahoma State Education Board approved $17 million in grants over the next three years for three schools in Oklahoma that have been identified as persistently low-performing.
The School Improvement Grants were approved by the board Thursday and the federal money is intended to help the schools, all of which are in Oklahoma City, improve a track record of poor student performance.
“We’re hopeful that this will have an impact,” state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said.
Schools given grants
Oklahoma Centennial Middle High School, 131 NE 101, will receive $11 million over the next three years to lengthen the school day, improve teacher and administration quality and completely reform student instruction.
The 7th-grade through 12th-grade facility is technically considered two schools, but separate grant applications for both were approved.
Additionally, the Justice Alma Wilson SeeWorth Academy, an Oklahoma City charter school that specializes in educating some of the most at-risk students in the state, is to receive roughly $6 million over the next three years.
The school applications for the grants referred to a specific model of school improvement it would follow, both schools selected the transformation model, which requires the school principals to be replaced if they have been at the school for more than two years.
Last year the state Education Department awarded $37 million in grants for a single year; this year only $6 million were available to schools.
“While the School Improvement Grants have dropped, the number of schools ... who are in need are increasing dramatically,” Barresi said.
‘Quite an issue’
Mary Colvin, executive director of school support, said there are currently 90 schools on the school improvement list, but she estimates that as many as 350 to 500 schools could be on the list next year based on the large number of schools that failed to meet federal benchmarks last year.
“This is quite an issue,” Barresi said.
All of the schools that received federal funding last year under the grants, except two schools in Tulsa that will close under a consolidation plan, were funded again this year, Barresi said.
The board also voted Thursday:
• To annex the Boynton-Moton School District, which lost accreditation in March, and place its students in the nearby Haskell and Midway school districts. The decision affects roughly 50 students in Muskogee County.
• To forgive the final days of school that students in Newcastle and Guthrie are missing because of tornado damage in the districts caused by Tuesday’s storms.