Posts tagged "school improvement grants"
October 10, 2012
Three of the 24 schools that the city tried to close and reopen this summer could undergo “turnaround” after all.
Under the aggressive form of the federally prescribed school overhaul process that the department tried to carry out, all teachers at the struggling schools were required to reapply for their jobs. The city set no quota for rehiring, but the requirement that no more than 50 percent be rehired in order for the schools to qualify for federal funding was widely known.
But three of the schools — some of the smallest proposed for turnaround — turned over more than 50 percent of their teachers last year anyway, so they meet the federal requirements for funding. The schools are Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School, J.H.S. 22 in the Bronx, and M.S. 126 in Brooklyn.
Now, the city has asked for turnaround funding for them and for 15 other schools that it is shutting down through its regular closure process. Under that process, used for years, one school phases out while others phase in in the same space. (more…)
August 21, 2012
A month ago, city officials said 24 struggling schools would have to miss out on costly school improvement programs because they were ineligible for federal “turnaround” grants. Now the city plans to pony up its own funds.
In a release to reporters this afternoon that was short on details, officials said the department would allocate $18 million to the schools as “one-time transitional support” to make up for the loss of $30 million School Improvement Grants.
City efforts to secure federal funding for these schools have been tense since the State Education Department yanked the funding from them and other schools late last December as a consequence for the city and union’s unresolved teacher evaluation negotiations.
To secure the funds, the city proposed to have 33 schools, later reduced to 24, undergo a stringent reform regimen called turnaround, which would have required the city to replace at least half the teachers at each school. To hit that quota, the city proposed closing the schools and re-opening them after replacing some teachers through a contractual process called 18-D.
But an independent arbitrator ruled that those plans violated the teachers’ contracts, and a court upheld the ruling in July. That ruling effectively made the city ineligible to receive the federal “turnaround” aid. (more…)
July 31, 2012
The teachers union’s victory in a legal fight over the city’s “turnaround” plans kept thousands of teachers at 24 struggling schools from losing their positions. But it has also put another group of teachers at risk.
They are the “master” and “turnaround” teachers, a cohort of experienced educators selected to put in extra hours helping their colleagues in exchange for extra pay.
The positions were funded through federal School Improvement Grants, but without turnaround or another overhaul process in place at the schools, those funds will not flow to the city. Last week, just after the city’s final bid to reinstate turnaround failed, the 71 master and turnaround teachers got a letter from the Department of Education telling them to look for other positions.
The demise of the elite positions has given rise to yet another city-union dispute centered around the schools formerly slated for turnaround. (more…)
June 29, 2012
An arbitrator has ruled that the city’s plans to reform 24 struggling schools by shaking up their staffs violated its collective bargaining agreements with the teachers and principals unions.
The arbitrator’s decision adds a new and abrupt twist to months of uncertainty at the schools. It also guarantees that the city cannot claim more than $40 million in federal funds that the overhaul process, known as “turnaround,” was aimed at securing.
The turnaround rules require the schools to replace half of their teachers, and the city was trying to use a clause in its contract with the teachers union, known as 18-D, to make that happen. In recent weeks, “18-D committees” told hundreds and possibly thousands of teachers and staff members at the schools they could not return next year.
Under the arbitrator’s ruling, all of those staff members are now free to take their jobs back.
The decision is a shocking blow to the Bloomberg administration, which turned to turnaround in January in a bid to win the federal funds without negotiating a new evaluation system with the United Federation of Teachers. (more…)
June 22, 2012
Three months after the city asked the state for federal funds to fuel school ‘turnaround’ efforts, the state has responded — with a resounding “maybe.”
In a letter released late Friday, State Education Commissioner John King said the way the city plans to overhaul 24 struggling schools meets the state’s requirements. But he said he would only hand over the federal funds, known as School Improvement Grants, if the city meets steep conditions.
To meet some of those conditions, the city would need to come out ahead in arbitration with the teachers union over collective bargaining rules at the 24 schools. It must also prove that community members were looped in on the city’s planning process.
The arbitration, which covers a dispute over whether the city may use a process outlined in the teachers union contract for schools that close and reopen (called 18-D), is set to end next week. If the union comes out ahead, hiring and firing decisions at the schools would be reversed and, according to King’s letter, the city would not be able to collect the SIG grants, which total nearly $60 million.
Earlier this year, King said he saw the city’s proposal as “approvable.” But he stayed quiet as the city signaled it would not force schools to adhere to a central requirement of turnaround set by the U.S. Department of Education: that they replace at least 50 percent of their teachers.
King’s letter today says the city must meet the federal government’s staffing requirements.
State turnaround advisors say “the percentage matters,” SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins said over email. “18-D is the mechanism to achieve the required percentage.” (more…)
June 20, 2012
Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggested that New York City look upstate for help fulfilling its school reform promises.
After early difficulties, the state is now doing an admirable job carrying out the changes it promised when it won Race to the Top funds from the federal Race to the Top program, Duncan said, reiterating praise he extended when the state reached a deal about teacher evaluations with its main union in February.
But New York City still has not adopted new evaluations, costing it this year’s federal School Improvement Grants. Last week the city became the last of 10 eligible districts across the state to remain cut off from the funds.
Duncan said New York City’s failure to adopt new evaluations was “obviously the big issue” in the state but that it could be overcome.
“If nine out of 10 districts can figure this thing out together, I’ll expect that hopefully they’ll follow suit,” Duncan said about the city. (more…)
June 13, 2012
After a protracted back-and-forth that included a district-union dust-up over absenteeism, State Education Commissioner John King is restoring a pot of federal funds to Buffalo.
That leaves just New York City as the only major School Improvement Grant-eligible district to be forgoing them this year.
Buffalo joined New York City and eight other districts across the state in losing the funds after King determined they had not adequately complied with a Dec. 31 deadline to adopt new evaluations for teachers in schools eligible for the funds, known as School Improvement Grants.
After the state’s teacher evaluation deal in February, five districts refined their applications sufficiently to have their funding restored. Two others got their funding back in March, and an eighth district, Greenburgh 11, saw its funding restored in April. Buffalo finally got King’s sign-off on Tuesday.
New York City was supposed to get almost $60 million this year through the grant program for dozens of struggling schools, and at first city officials said they hoped to see the funds restored. But with progress toward new teacher evaluations non-existent and the year winding to a close, the Bloomberg administration got permission in March to use city funds to cover this year’s loss. (more…)
May 18, 2012
Hiring is set to resume at the 24 “turnaround” schools under an agreement city and union officials reached late Friday afternoon.
But the hiring decisions could be reversed if an arbitrator ultimately decides that the unions’ complaint — that the city is attempting to circumvent contractual hiring and firing policies at the schools — is valid.
The city teachers and principals unions sued to stop the hiring process, but on Wednesday, a State Supreme Court judge urged both sides to accept arbitration rather than pursue litigation. Today, the city and unions agreed “in principle” to seek arbitration, selected an arbitrator, and selected a first meeting date — June 5.
In the meantime, the city will continue the process of rehiring or replacing teachers at the schools — but will have to run the risk of having those decisions undone if the arbitrator rules in the unions’ favor.
The outcome of the contractual dispute could affect the state’s ability to approve those 24 schools for a pot of federal funds, Commissioner John King told reporters today. (more…)
April 19, 2012
New York City’s controversial school turnaround proposals represent a tiny piece of a sweeping effort, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to overhaul the country’s lowest-performing schools. In the second of three articles about the reform effort produced by Education Week, The Hechinger Report, and the Education Writers Association, Andrew Brownstein looks at the strange juxtaposition of School Improvement Grants against a context of state budget cuts — an issue that is less acute in New York than in many other states but relevant nonetheless.
For the casual visitor, it’s easy to miss that Southeast High School in rural Kansas — once among the lowest academic performers in the state — is in the midst of a profound transformation.
Like so many other Kansas schools, the building in Cherokee (population: 722) shows the telltale signs of a suffering economy. Bus routes have been cut, as have supplies. Custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers took an eight-day pay cut. During the harsh winters, students bundle up to make it through classes where the temperature hovers at an uncomfortable, but cost-saving 68 degrees.
But look deeper, and another picture emerges.
Every one of those students is assigned a MacBook for the year. Teachers use iPads on classroom walkthroughs designed to improve instruction and boost student engagement. And the entire school improvement process is underscored by consultants from Cross & Joftus, a Washington, D.C.-area consulting firm.
The schizophrenic portrait of school funding is not unique to Southeast. It is one of roughly 1,200 schools in the nation to win a federal School Improvement Grant (SIG), given to those in the bottom 5 percent in the country to spark radical improvements in school culture and student performance. The backdrop of the recession means that many of these schools have funding to do things they’ve never done at the same time that they’re hamstrung to fund many of the basic things educators typically take for granted. (more…)
April 16, 2012
New York City’s controversial school turnaround proposals represent a tiny piece of a sweeping effort, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to overhaul the country’s lowest-performing schools. In the first of three articles about the reform effort produced by Education Week, The Hechinger Report, and the Education Writers Association, Alyson Klein examines the effects of federal School Improvement Grants on districts across the country — and the grants’ uncertain future. GothamSchools was one of a dozen news organizations to contribute to the reporting.
After two years, the federal program providing billions of dollars to help states and districts close or remake some of their worst-performing schools remains an ambitious work in progress, with roughly 1,200 turnaround efforts under way but still no verdict on its effectiveness.
The School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, supercharged by a $3 billion windfall under the federal economic-stimulus program in 2009, has jumpstarted aggressive moves by states and districts. To get their share of the money, they had to quickly identify some of their most academically troubled schools, craft new teacher-evaluation systems, and carve out more time for instruction, among other steps.
Some schools and districts spent millions of dollars on outside experts and consultants. Others went through the politically ticklish process of replacing teachers and principals, while combating community skepticism and meeting the demands of district and state overseers.
It’s not at all clear if the federal prescription can cure the most ailing schools and lead to long-term improvements, but preliminary student achievement data for the program offer some promise. The U.S. Department of Education looked at about 700 of the schools in their second year of the program and found that a quarter of them posted double-digit gains in math during the 2010-11 school year. Another 20 percent showed similar progress in reading.
A collaborative reporting project drawing on the efforts of more than 20 news organizations and affiliated journalists paints a mixed picture of how the SIG program is playing out on the ground. The major findings show: (more…)