Durham doesn't want to sacrifice principals for federal money

Posted December 14, 2010 4:03 p.m. EST
Updated December 14, 2010 4:49 p.m. EST

— State education leaders have requested that three Durham Public Schools principals be allowed to remain at their schools under a federal grant program.

The school district wants $4.5 million in "Race to the Top" money to help three schools that are considered low-performing. One of the requirements to get the money, however, is replacing the principal at each school.

Durham Superintendent Eric Becoats said Tuesday that the district wouldn't sacrifice leadership for the money and said the state has asked the U.S. Department of Education to waive the requirement for schools that show significant growth in student test scores over a two-year period.

"I don't think we are trading leadership for iPads," Becoats said. "We are utilizing an innovative tool to help further instruction, to also enhance teaching and learning based upon what we're seeing and based upon other visits and research."

The grant money would pay for iPads to help students at W. G. Pearson Elementary School and Lowe's Grove Middle School learn. Teams of specialists also would work with teachers to help them help students.

Neal Middle School plans to use its grant money to convert to a magnet school and adopt a science- and math-based curriculum.

Teachers at Lowe's Grove Middle said last month that they planned to fight to keep Principal Kathy Kirkpatrick, who has been credited with turning around the school in recent years.

Last spring, Kirkpatrick testified before Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who oversees a lawsuit to ensure that students across North Carolina receive a quality education, and the judge said later that he was impressed with the work she has done.