District to use turnaround reform
Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/10/2010 10:13:32 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – School district officials have once again revised their plan for turning around 11 low-performing elementary, middle and high schools.

After finding out that several schools on that list had experienced a significant turnover in staff in the last two years, the school board decided last week to go with the turnaround reform instead of making six of the schools district-run charters.

“It seemed like a way to simplify the process and help us focus,” said Judy White, deputy superintendent of curriculum instruction and accountability.

San Bernardino City Unified officials learned in March that the 11 schools were on a list of 188 statewide identified as persistently low-achieving.

To get federal School Improvement Grant, or SIG, funding to turn the tide, districts with struggling schools were asked to put intervention models in place.

In the original plan, five schools were slated to go with the transformation model, which replaces the principal and rewards leaders, teachers and staff who improve student achievement and graduation rates, while the other six were to become charter schools.

The transformation schools are now Pacific High, Davidson Elementary, Rio Vista Elementary and Arroyo Valley High and San Gorgonio High.

The turnaround schools will be Shandin Hills Middle, Hunt Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Marshall Elementary, Barton Elementary and Serrano Middle.

The district had originally gone with the charter or restart model as opposed to turnaround because the latter included a requirement to replace the principal and half the teaching staff, a move officials deemed too drastic.

But just prior to the July 2 deadline for sending in the SIG funding application, officials learned they met the criteria for turnaround if they already had turnover in instructional staff in the last two years.

At that time the district’s accountability unit made a recommendation to the board to revisit all models, said White.

“We felt there would be a better opportunity to get SIG funding if we went with transformation and turnaround without having to meet the charter/restart requirements,” said White.

State Education Department officials said they have indeed stipulated that if a district has replaced a principal and staff within the last two years they don’t have to do it again.

The caveat being that those changes have been made as part of school reform, said Julie Baltazar, administrator for the department that oversees the SIG money.

To date, four of the principals at the 11 schools have retired and five were reassigned with two meeting criteria and remaining at their same schools.

Some of the elements of district-run charter schools, including plans for the schools created by teachers, will still be implemented.

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