N.C.'s lowest-performing schools getting federal grants

Posted July 19, 2010

— Twenty five of North Carolina's lowest-performing schools are getting more than $65.4 million in federal school improvement grants over the next three years to improve student achievement.

One of those schools, the Durham Performance Learning Center, is getting nearly $2 million. The alternative high school serves students who risk dropping out because they're far behind academically.

“We have a chance to transform the Durham Performance Learning Center school,” said Principal Dan Gilfort.

This year, 55 percent of DPLC students passed end-of-course tests. The school plans to start an academic readiness center for eighth- and ninth-graders, focusing on reading and math.

Gilfort said he is will hire nine more staff members, including English teachers, math teachers, a literacy specialist, a social worker and guidance counselor.

“The small setting where the kids are more well-known by their teachers, where kids get more individualized instruction, is a better thing,” he said. “We’ll have resources in terms of social workers and counselors to make sure that those things going (on) outside of school aren’t such a factor that (it) hinders them going in(to) school.”

Gilfort says there is definitely pressure. The school must show that it's meeting certain goals.

“It’s a challenge I relish and really look forward to it,” he said.

North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction will review the school's progress annually to determine if the grant should be renewed. The federal funds were awarded by formula to states, which then made competitive grants available to school districts.

The expected reforms are large in scale and the money can in no way be used to fill in state revenue holes.

The following districts will receive grant funds. The model the districts will employ in its schools is noted along with the school(s) and the grant total:

  • Anson County Schools (Anson Challenge Academy), $2,436,215
  • Brunswick County Schools (Brunswick County Academy), $1,996,081
  • Buncombe County Schools (Buncombe Community-East School), $2,330,198
  • Burke County Schools (Burke Alternative School –West), $980,896
  • Cumberland County Schools (Walker-Spivey School), $1,906,662
  • Davidson County Schools (Davidson County Extended Day School), $2,069,211
  • Durham Public Schools (Durham's Performance Learning Center), $1,996,153
  • Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools (Kennedy Learning Center, Petree Elementary School), $2,084,108/$2,704,108
  • Gaston County Schools (Warlick Learning Community Middle/High School), $2,312,198
  • Guilford County Schools (Oak Hill Elementary School), $2,864,207
  • Halifax County Schools (Enfield Middle School, Southeast Halifax High School), $2,083,148/$2,909,148
  • Hickory City Schools (Catawba Valley High School), $2,270,207
  • Jackson County Schools (Jackson County School of Alternative Education), $2,036,206
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (E.E. Waddell High School, West Mecklenburg High School), $3,666,133/$4,644,698
  • Nash-Rocky Mount Schools (W.L. Greene Alternative School), $1,788,099
  • Pitt County Schools (Farmville Central High School, North Pitt High School, South Central High School), $2,286,400/$2,614,000/$3,269,200
  • Public Schools of Robeson County (Fairmont High School, Lumberton Senior High School), $3,136,117/$6,000,000
  • Rowan-Salisbury Schools (Henderson Independent High School), $2,164,198
  • Wayne County Schools (Goldsboro High School), $2,886,144

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  • Mugu Jul 19, 2010

    Children should be able to go to school wherever they want, throwing money at a fire will not put it out. A voucher system would be awesome!

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Jul 19, 2010

    Now there's a great statement. Fail and we'll give you more money! A great message to pass along to kids. Thanks Democrats!

  • NCAries Jul 19, 2010

    tell the students they exist to give back rather than take

    And when they see the news and read the newspaper and see how the corporate elite have ripped off the citizens and all the other political and rich wrong do you explain that double standard???? Morality is lost on the older generations that's why the younger generations are having such a problem...hypocrisy is hard to explain's not what they are taught it's what they see and hear that determines the decisions that they make....crime does pay in some circumstances.

  • Pseudonym Jul 19, 2010


    MANY people have offered ALL KINDS of solutions. YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR THEM

  • JAT Jul 19, 2010

    raven - you blame the people that aren't doing their part. And everyone knows who they are. That's why so many don't want true neighborhood schools; because it will become real apparent real fast which schools fail. Instead, they take some of the trouble kids and mix them in with great schools and it gets washed down. They aren't so apparent. The alternative schools are not mixed - they're just full of trouble kids, either academically, behaviorally, etc. We won't make parents be responsible because that might hurt their feelings. We don't make teen moms find other sources of education because it might hurt their feelings. We won't kick kids out of school because they're violent because it might hurt their feelings. So, we put them all in these schools and hope and pray they stay long enough to graduate.

  • Corporal Snark Jul 19, 2010

    By all means, let's throw more money at the problem.

    It is certainly easier than asking the parents to take any responsibility for their offspring's academic success or failure.

  • galileosgal Jul 19, 2010

    And my solution:

    Take the government and the unions out of education. Give everyone vouchers and let teachers start their own schools to fit their educational style and parents pick schools based on what they want. So then you can have schools that cater to gifted, schools that teach classically, schools that are project based, schools that are phonics and real math, schools that are sight words and fuzzy math, schools that focus things around history or around science, vocational oriented schools, and then you can have a school that specializing in free babysitting w/ a Future Welfare Check Collector club. Then let the bad schools fail and if someone doesn't like the school, they go to another school of their choice.

  • pappy1 Jul 19, 2010

    Yup...reinforce failure, rather that root out the problem.

    Fire the faculty at each and every one, lock the building and move the students to the nearest successful school...oh, wait the NEA would never let such a thing happen. Never mind.

  • Plenty Coups Jul 19, 2010

    "These kids won't see much of this grant money. Not to mention a lot of the above mentioned schools are alternative, for students who have already been kicked out of public school. I doubt they even care about education to begin with... and you can't change that attitude by throwing money at the problem."

    You're partially right though I know in Johnston County there is only so much space at alternative schools. Teachers are told to put up with problem students ( unless they do something flagrantly wrong) and if the alternative school is already full.

  • jljtheraven Jul 19, 2010


    I appreciate your comment. It is not fair that you had to supplement other children by buying extra school supplies.

    You are correct that spending money will not automatcally lead to parents and kids doing their part. But no one has still answered the question: How do we solve this problem of getting unmotivated people to fulfill their obligations? You can't blame the teachers and you can't blame the students and parents who are doing their part. So where is the answer?