11 SB schools await word on $57.6 million
Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/22/2010 09:45:41 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – San Bernardino City Unified is slated to receive $57.6 million in federal funding over a three-year period to turn around 11 low-achieving schools.

But exactly when the district will get the School Improvement Grants money to put much-needed changes in place remains up in the air.

“There has been one delay already,” said Superintendent Arturo Delgado. “And it’s getting frustrating because we have already started the school year.”

The State Board of Education was supposed to make a decision on the funding at a meeting in early August.

But the action was delayed after officials from Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified and other large districts expressed concerns they were not getting any money.

The funding is now contingent on a Board of Education decision on the matter Tuesday.

But even with that action, the timeline for allocation of the funding remains uncertain.

“We don’t have a budget yet to actually send out funding, but districts will know Tuesday what the state board action is,” said Chris Swenson, director of the district and school improvement division for the California Department of Education.

Districts with schools on the list of 188 lowest achieving in the state were asked in March to put interventions in place by the start of this school year.

To ensure the district received the improvement grants funding, the school board ultimately decided on two reforms: transformation and turnaround.

Both require replacing the principal at the start of the school year, but turnaround also calls for replacing half the staffs.

So far, new principals are in place and there is an increased focus on enrichment blocks and use of new technology at many of the schools.

Teachers who wanted to transfer in and out of the schools have transferred.

“We had a quite a few teachers who wanted to transfer in to follow administrators and also because they were excited about plans for the schools,” said Rebecca Harper, president of the San Bernardino Teachers Association, the teachers union.

The district and teachers union have also reached a deal on compensation for the increased hours in the day and school year pending funding.

The district will hire additional staff and reduce class sizes when the money is in place.

To read entire story, click here.