Grant may mean millions for schools

Grant may mean millions for schools

July 26th, 2010 by Randall Higgins in News

BY THE NUMBERS

3: Number of high schools

$425,000: Annual grant amount per school

5 years: Length of grant

Source: Dr. Rick Denning, Cleveland and Bradley schools

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The three high schools in Bradley County, including Cleveland's, are jointly seeking a grant that could be worth millions of dollars over five years for each of them.

Federal guidelines came out two weeks ago on how to apply for the Small Learning Communities grant. The deadline is Aug. 4 and school systems will hear the results in October.

Dr. Rick Denning, Cleveland City Schools director, said the money is spread across five years, at $425,000 a year per high school. The schools are Cleveland High, Bradley Central and Walker Valley.

The U.S. Department of Education grants support creation of small learning communities within high schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more students. Each community stays together throughout the students' high school years.

"Small Learning Communities include structures such as freshman academies, multi-grade academies organized around career interests or other themes, 'houses' in which small groups of students remain together throughout high school and autonomous schools-within-a-school," according to the U.S. Department of Education website.

At Bradley Central, creating a freshman academy was one of Johnny McDaniel's first goals as principal. That freshman academy now has expanded now to sophomores and soon juniors.

"When they are more engaged with school, students are less likely to drop out," Mr. McDaniel said.

Freshmen at Bradley have a community of classrooms with teachers and advisers always nearby, rather than the traditional arrangement of clusters of classrooms around a particular subject.

Teachers working close together can track their students' progress and share common planning time, he said.

Walker Valley High School has a freshman academy as well.

Bradley County Schools asked Cleveland City Schools earlier this year to jointly apply for the grant.

Autumn O'Bryan, Cleveland High principal, was site coordinator under the same grant at a Hamilton County high school.

"It makes a really great community effort," Ms. O'Bryan said. "We are building a bridge between the three high schools."