Blue Ridge Elementary not awarded grant to help turn school around

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OLYMPIA — Nine state school districts have been identified to receive federal School Improvement Grants, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced this morning.

The grants, totaling $17 million for the 2010-11 school year, will be used to improve student achievement. The nine districts are: Seattle, Tacoma, Marysville, Yakima, Wellpinit, Sunnyside, Highline, Grandview and Longview.

Each district will next work with OSPI to finalize the list of schools to be served in that district and to finalize the monetary amounts for each school. The schools that will be served, and the money they will receive, will be posted to the OSPI Web site on April 27 along with the unsuccessful applications.

"We received many impressive applications and participated in meaningful interviews," said Janell Newman, assistant superintendent for district and school improvement and accountability at OSPI. "But district requests for funds were much greater than the amount of funds available."

In all, 41 schools from 21 districts applied for the grants and requested around $49 million.

Blue Ridge Elementary in Walla Walla was among 41 of 47 schools in the state targeted as persistently low-achieving that sought an improvement grant. The district had submitted a proposal requesting about $379,000 to turn the school around, and would have committed the school to changing leadership, shutting down, or drastically shifting its operation.

Districts that will not be receiving grants will work with OSPI to find services that might be available to help them. Those interventions may include district-level reviews, math and reading program reviews, coaching for instructional leaders and online classroom data collection, according to a release.

Schools not on the grant recipient list could still be required to drastically turn around if improvements are not made by next year.

OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson said schools that didn't get a grant could still be held to one of the four turnaround standards.

"If they don't improve next year they will have to follow one of the models," he said.

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