Juarez HS has been trying to get better for years now, and is currently part of the federally-funded SIG program that gives extra funding to struggling schools in exchange for making changes in leadership, staffing, and curriculum. But what exactly is different at the school this year? I'm not entirely sure. The school got a visit from ISBE chair Gery Chico earlier this month, and is getting $4 million over three years and an outside partner (not sure whom). Are the teachers, the administrators, and the school organization any different than in the past? Are there more or different kinds of support services available to kids or teachers?
ISBE Chairman Tours Benito Juarez Community Academy to observe academic improvement efforts
Federal funds target lowest performing schools
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico and State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch today visited Benito Juarez Community Academy in City of Chicago Public Schools District 299 to see how officials there are spending nearly $5.6 million in School Improvement Grant funds. Juarez is one of 20 High Schools in 10 districts across the state that have been awarded $108 million in federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds in Fiscal Year 2011 and 2012. The grants, awarded through a competitive application and review process, aim to help improve student achievement at some of the lowest performing schools in the state.
“The State Board of Education is overseeing dramatic reform efforts at low performing schools across the state. This is expensive work so it’s important we know what’s working so we can share it with other districts,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Juarez Academy alone is slated to receive more than $4 million over the next three years to help students stay in school and become better prepared to achieve in college and careers.”
Under the SIG terms, each district must implement one of four intervention models; Turnaround, Restart, Transformation or School Closure, as approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Money is allocated to each district with the bulk of funds going toward the reform strategy at the specific schools and a smaller portion going toward district oversight. Districts and schools are to receive funds for three years but must go through an annual re-application process. Initial applications were evaluated and scored by review teams made up of national and state experts.
The SIG districts are required to work with one of 16 organizations, called Lead Partners, that have been pre-approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The state agency will also provide technical assistance during the process, and each district will have to re-apply for continued annual funding in FY 2013 and FY 2014.
“Thanks to the influx of these federal improvement funds, we are able to award grants to districts that are ready and willing to make dramatic change in their schools to benefit students,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “In many cases, the changes are not easy or pleasant, but necessary for students to succeed and we applaud the local administrations for making these tough choices.”
For a list of all SIG districts and schools, please visit http://www.isbe.net/sos/htmls/