FHS qualifies for grants

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, April 17, 2010

FRANKLIN—Franklin High School’s graduation rate of 60.18 percent for the 2006-2007 school year is what landed it on a list of schools eligible for federal grants to improve student performance.

“That’s not academic achievement, that’s strictly the graduation rate that caught us in this predicament,” Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle said Friday.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced Virginia would receive nearly $59.8 million through the School Improvement Grants program to turn around “low achieving” schools.

Franklin school officials stressed that the school met the benchmarks for Adequate Yearly Progress and is fully accredited by the state Department of Education this year.

The school’s graduation rate improved by four percentage points for the 2007-2008, but to get off of the list the school must either improve or hold that rate for another year.

Franklin High is not considered one of the state’s “persistently lowest achieving” schools and is newly eligible for the funding.

Schools like Franklin can only receive funds through the grants once all of the state’s persistently lowest achieving schools have received funds.

Persistently low achieving schools must indicate that they will implement one of four models when they apply for the funding. Those models include replacing administrators, and closing or converting schools.

“We’re not in those other sanctions,” Belle said. “We don’t have to close schools, we don’t have to replace principals…we don’t have to do any of those things.”

Belle said the division is still waiting on more information from the state Department of Education, but a coaching model will likely be put in place to assist the administration and staff at the school.

Franklin school officials hope that Franklin High’s days on the list are numbered.

“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that (the graduation rate) will be at or above where we were last year,” Belle said.