It's official: Huntsville is one of six school districts in Alabama that are receiving more than $15.8 million in school improvement grants designed to aid struggling public schools.
The district was seeking about $6.5 million in funding to help "restart" Westlawn Middle School and Dawson Elementary, formerly known as West Mastin Lake Elementary. The award announcement was made last week by state education officials.
Other districts that are being awarded funds are the Birmingham, Midfield and Tuscaloosa city school districts and the Bullock and Dallas county systems, according to a news release from the Alabama Department of Education. The money was awarded to the state department by the U.S. Department of Education to turn around some of its persistently lowest-achieving schools.
To be eligible, schools on the state's list of persistently lowest-achieving campuses had to complete rigorous applications that included a needs assessment, goals and strategies to fulfill specific goals and a budget for the three-year period of the grant, the news release said. Schools were required to select one of four school reform models to apply for funding: the school closure, restart, turnaround and transformation models.
All of the Alabama schools will go through either the transformation or turnaround model, the news release said.
Dawson will follow the transformation model, which includes a new principal and new evaluation systems for that principal and for teachers, the news release said. It also requires implementation of "strategies to recruit, place and retain high achieving staff; provide professional development; use data to inform and differentiate instruction; increase learning time for staff and students; provide social-emotion and community oriented services; and provide operating flexibility to the new principal."