What we know:
- Federal government, under the School Improvement Grant sanctions, required each state to identify its “persistently underperforming schools”.
- Five OUSD schools were identified as “persistently underperforming schools” (Tier 1) based on the CA State Board of Education approved list, as of Thursday, March 11, 2010.
- Of the five OUSD schools, one has been slated for closure as of the end of the 09-10 school year: Explore Academy (Burbank campus).
- The four remaining OUSD schools are all middle schools incubated and opened “new” in 2006.
- Alliance Academy (Elmhurst campus)
- Elmhurst Community Prep (Elmhurst campus)
- Roots International (Havenscourt campus)
- United For Success Academy (Calvin Simmons campus)
- The SIG grant sets forth four sanctioned methods for addressing these “Persistently Underperforming Schools”
- School Closure
- Turnaround (reconstitution of leadership and staff)
- Restart (convert or close and open as a charter school)
- Transformation (implement specifically required and permissible school reform strategies)
- The SIG states that LEA’s seeking SIG funds for the 2010-11 school year between $50,000 - $2,000,000 (each school, annually) must apply by June 10, 2010.
- Grant requires that LEA must engage the affected communities. The State requires this to include at least three Public Hearings in response to any proposal being put forth by the LEA for each school. At least one of the three Public Hearings must be held at the affected school site.
What we don’t know:
If an LEA does not apply for SIG funds by June 10, 2010, would the LEA nonetheless be required to implement one of the sanctioned methods set forth in the Grant in the future, even in the face of limited to no additional funding available? No clear direction to this question has been given at this time by the Federal or State government, although the Executive Director of the SBE stated clearly that districts should assume as much.
It is widely held throughout the state that there are many details lacking clarity and the CDE is attempting to clarify terms of this Grant, including considering further legislation to clarify unanswered questions.
In terms of the four sanctioned methods set forth in the Grant; it is not yet clear how black and white the LEA’s approach to each school must be, or how “creative” the reform measures might be in order to satisfy the Grant requirements, as well as to be eligible for the highest level grant award possible.
1. OUSD is coordinating an effort to clarify as much information as possible regarding this federal mandate.
- A central office team that is in communication and/or meeting daily with one another to develop updates based on ongoing analysis of the SIG requirements, and ongoing research with CDE and other state and federal agencies.
- Attempts to centralize information to ensure clarity and consistency for the general public and affected school sites.
2. OUSD is coordinating an effort to empower each affected school site leaders with information to assist its stakeholder groups in understanding the possible implications of this federal mandate.
- Providing regular updates to school leaders on the districts emerging understanding of the SIG requirements
- Coordinating and in some cases facilitating site-based meetings with staff and parent communities
- Supporting an effort that allows each school community to consider each of the four sanctioned methods set forth in the Grant and its implications for each affected school.
- The absence of clarity regarding specific expectations by the state and federal governments means that the District must advance its efforts in a state of uncertainty.
- Given the current efforts to develop a district-wide strategic planning process – the timing of the SIG requirements introduces unique challenges to ensuring a process that is sufficiently thoughtful and aligned to the emerging direction of the district.
- Given the strong views likely to be held by many within each school community’s stakeholder groups with respect to each of the four sanctioned methods set forth in the Grant, it will be critical to ensure broad-based contributions are made to the final proposals put forth by the Superintendent to the OUSD Board of Education.
Last Modified on March 26, 2010