Youngstown school district addresses loss of federal money

By Denise Dick


Federal School Improvement Grant money has run out for two of the three city schools that received it, but the district’s deputy superintendent says the strategies implemented with the funding will continue.

“The fortunate piece is we knew ahead of time that the grant was to help us build capacity and that we should not rely on that funding and then fall backward once it ran out,” said Doug Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs. “Everything we’ve done in the last two years is going to continue.”

Federal SIG money allotted for University Project Learning Center, Chaney and East totaled $3.3 million over three years. The money was reduced last year to about $1.5 million after East and UPLC didn’t meet academic-growth targets.

This year was different.

“All three schools met their targets,” Hiscox said.

Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said ODE conducted a review of SIG schools in May, including fiscal compliance, progress toward evidence-based best practices, and achievement of federal reform model components. The results indicate that East and Chaney achieved all 39 of the required elements. UPLC achieved 38 of 39.

East and UPLC were not eligible for additional competitive SIG dollars, though, because they completed year three of funding at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Chaney completed year two of funding at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The school completed a competitive application for year three (2013-14) and was awarded the $800,000.

“They always reduce the amount in the third year,” Hiscox said.

Even though the SIG money for East and UPLC has run out, both will continue to receive monitoring and coaching for an additional two school years, Charlton said in an email.

One way the district has continued the work without the money is by training administrative staff to do the work previously done by academic math and literacy coaches.

Administrators at East were trained in how to conduct a classroom walk-through and how to provide professional development to building staff. Outside sources had been providing that training that now will be provided in-house by administrators.

The district also used SIG money to rewrite the ninth- through 12th-grade curriculum while district funds were used to rewrite the curriculum for the lower grades.

“That’s a big chunk of money that’s no longer needed because we can take care of it ourselves,” Hiscox said.

The district doesn’t have as much need for outside support this year, he said.

“We’ll still be able to deliver all the things we need to do to keep [Chaney] moving forward,” the deputy superintendent said. “We’ll still have extended day programing. We’ll continue to have math and literacy coaches for another year, then we’ll pick it up another way. We have enough money for professional development and for work that teachers do outside of the work day, we’ll be able to pay them” with the SIG money.

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