KCUR News
5:41 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Federal Funding For Districts To Transform Low-Performing Schools

Kansas City, Mo. – A new pot of federal money will soon be available to school districts that take steps to dramatically transform low-performing schools. Federal officials met with area school districts and community members yesterday to explain the new program.

Missouri districts with schools ranking in the bottom 5% in test scores and graduation rates will be eligible to apply for these funds in the next month. But districts must agree to turn around the low-performing schools in three years by choosing one of several models.

Possibilities include closing the school, replacing the principal and half the staff, or converting to a charter school.

US Department of Education Director of Student Achievement and School Accountability Zollie Stevenson says Title 1 federal funds have long gone to high-poverty schools, but haven't targeted the lowest-performing.

"We've tried a whole lot of different things in the 45 different years that Title 1 has been in place," Stevenson says. "This is an opportunity to try things differently."

$382 million will be available to Missouri districts that agree to try one of the transformation models.