OAKLAND — Two East Oakland schools have won a total of $17.2 million in federal school improvement grants Oakland Unified school district officials say will help transform their schools and expand opportunities for student achievement.
Futures Elementary School and Community United Elementary School, both located on the Havenscourt-Lockwood campus at 6701 International Blvd., will receive the five-year Federal School Improvement Grant from the California Department of Education. The schools serve predominantly low-income students, many of whom are learning English.
“This grant will transform these two schools, which have demonstrated their need for increased resources, and vastly expand opportunities for student achievement,” said David Montes de Oca, the district’s senior deputy chief of continuous school improvement. “We’re committed to using these funds to raise the quality of education over the long-term.”
Unlike with some previous awards of this type, this grant gives the district flexibility to partner with a local school district. Thus, a collaboration with the Alameda County Office of Education will allow the Oakland district to choose more locally driven initiatives to boost performance at these schools, rather than the federally mandated initiatives of the past.
The grant aims to help to build staff and leadership at these schools to fully establish a “linked- learning” curriculum in the elementary grades that boosts real-world learning and career experiences, plus cross-disciplinary learning aligned with Common Core. The grant also will help bolster Community United’s dual-language program with additional programs for neighboring families.
A grant like this allows these schools to do real, sustainable infrastructure building, said Ashley Marie Hill, the district’s director of operations and strategic growth. “It truly is looking at deep structural and long-term change in the schools’ systems, relationships and structures.”
Exactly how the money will be used will be determined during the grant’s first year, which focuses on planning. It starts in January, Hill said.
“It’s just a fun and exciting time to enhance the culture that already exists in the schools. … There’s already really strong parent and community engagement at both schools, and this is a way to build on those successes,” she said. “Both already have gained a lot of momentum toward improvement and this is that extra push to get them there faster.”