We are honored to receive a School Improvement Grant for our work next year in Binghampton. These funds will allow us to add additional teachers in our classrooms, hire a director of parent and community relations to build relationships in the community and allow us to provide technological tools to our teachers and students. These investments will support our efforts to equip all of our students with the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and become leaders in their community.
The Commercial Appeal article which ran on the front page of the May 11, 2012 paper read in part:
Gov. Bill Haslam announced the grant Thursday at a Nashville middle school ... The Memphis money is part of a $37.6 million infusion over three years to improve three districts: Memphis, $14.8 million; Metro Nashville, $12.4 million; and $10.4 million for the state's Achievement School District opening this fall.
The Achievement School District is a borderless district of the 84 schools statewide scoring in the bottom five percent on state tests. Seven schools, six of them in Memphis, will split the $10.4 million.Those schools are Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, which is taking over Lester School in Binghamton; Corning Elementary; Westside Middle and Frayser Elementary, both in Frayser; and Gordon Science and Arts Academy, starting this fall in Gordon Elementary.
"One of the focuses here is on reducing the gap in proficiency levels between students from different races and income levels. It's one of the biggest issues that we have in Tennessee, what we call the achievement gap," Haslam said.
An iZone school is closely patterned after charter schools, which have more flexibility in exchange for increasing student achievement. IZone principals will be able to hire who they wish and start programs that make sense for their students, said Roderick Richmond, chief of school operations in Memphis City Schools."The district was strategic in looking at these schools," he said. "We wanted to focus on schools where we felt we could make a difference, not only in the school but in revitalizing the community.
"The school day will be at least an hour longer in each iZone school. School leaders are also expected to step up ties they have with community partners, including local adopters, to create stronger community ties.
In Memphis, the money will also help the charter schools selected to expand in two city schools this summer, part of the ASD strategy.Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, for instance, will hire a parent/community support liaison, key to building rapport with its new parents at Lester School, said Drew Sippel, executive director.
"The money is designed for things we otherwise couldn't do," he said. "We're excited about having extra teachers in the classroom so we can meet every student where they are.Cornerstone will run pre-kindergarten through third grade this fall. Next year, it will expand through fifth grade.