Glenn Hills, Josey and Laney high schools have been awarded more than $1 million each in federal school improvement grants for the coming school year, Richmond County school officials announced Friday.
"These awards are for the first year of a three-year grant cycle," a school system news release said. "The awarding of funds for years two and three will be based on an annual renewal contingent on performance. Performance will be measured by student achievement results on state assessments."
The Title 1 and stimulus-funded grants are part of $19.5 million being issued statewide to 16 schools. Richmond County applied for the money in April and had the most schools statewide selected to receive money. Glenn Hills will receive $1,078,955; Josey, $1,021,867; and Laney, $1,159,759.
"That's great," school board member Helen Minchew said about the grants.
The grants are tied to reform plans for Laney, Glenn Hills and Josey. The money is to be used for professional development, student improvement and financial incentives to workers who meet certain expectations.
The three schools were chosen after being named among high schools that ranked in the lowest 5 percent statewide in student achievement in the past two years.
Officials have said Glenn Hills and Josey will take on a transformation model, which involves ongoing teacher evaluation. At Laney, which had a lower graduation rate, 50 percent of the staff will be replaced. Those not returning -- about 60 -- will be sent to other Richmond County schools. Laney has been on the Needs Improvement list for four years. Implementing the turnaround model sets its Needs Improvement status back to year one, thereby keeping it from becoming state-monitored next school year.
Officials have said that reform efforts in all three schools would have teachers focusing more on evaluating student work and emphasizing "higher order thinking," meaning more project-based, analytical work for students.
Officials have said a teacher meeting goals based on student performance could receive as much as $10,000 in a three-year period under the incentive package.
If student performance improves, the schools could qualify for total funding of more than $2 million over the three years. According to state Department of Education figures released Friday, the potential funding beyond the first year is: $885,296 for year two and $802,300 for year three at Glenn Hills; $784,224 for year two and $570,345 for year three at Josey; and $828,399 for year two and $773,173 for year three at Laney.
Final individual school improvement plans will be made available by July 9, Friday's release said.