Montgomery schools get $10.5 million grant

MONTGOMERY, AL. – The Alabama Department of Education awarded a $10.5 million grant to Montgomery Public Schools Monday. The money will go towards addressing specific needs at four schools in the system.

These School Improvement Grants (SIG) are designed to assist in providing programs and services through state administered federal funds to schools needing support for academic achievement. Only four school systems in the state were awarded a grant.

"We are thrilled," said MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson. "This grant will help us fulfill our goal to reforming and restructuring middle schools that I set earlier in the school year. This money will make a huge difference in the lives of these children."

The grant will provide additional materials, programs and educators at Bellingrath Middle, McIntyre Middle, and Capitol Heights Junior high schools.

In addition, $50,000 of the grant was awarded to help with transition activities at Hayneville Road Elementary. The funds would be used to assist teachers and students transition to other schools should the board choose to close that facility at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

The grant will fund a transformation model that addresses multiple components of school operations at Bellingrath, McIntyre and Capitol Heights. The grant includes a limited number of additional math and reading teachers. The funds provide an additional administrator to assist the principal in improving instruction.

At each school the SIG grant will provide additional paid teacher professional development days. Teachers will be trained this summer on these innovative programs and integrating technology into their classroom.

The federal program required a monetary incentive be built into the grant for teachers whose students showed marked improvement because of the program. Teachers would be eligible for bonuses if students reach academic goals.

Every classroom in the three middle schools will be equipped with a variety of instructional technology. Students will also have access to mobile computer labs, and individualized reading and math computer software will help struggling students excel.

"The grant was awarded, in part, on our innovative approach and our capacity to implement these programs," added Thompson. "A video conference was held with the grant judges who asked questions about our plan. We had to prove we not only had a solid plan, but the right people to make it work."

The grant will be awarded and the programs introduced to the schools over the next three school years.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Montgomery Public Schools