Education

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

Posted July 19, 2010 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2010 5:45 a.m. EDT

— 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