U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Virginia will receive nearly $59.8 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. These funds are part of the $3.5 billion that will be made available to states this spring from money set aside in the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“When a school continues to perform in the bottom five percent of the state and isn’t showing signs of growth or has graduation rates below 60 percent, something dramatic needs to be done,” said Duncan. “Turning around our worst performing schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids.”
The $59,838,030 made available to Virginia is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. In order for a school district to apply for these funds, it must have a state-identified “persistently lowest achieving” or a Tier III schoolâ€”a school that has failed to meet annual yearly progress for two years and is not identified as a persistently lowest achieving school.
Speaking about the funding, Governor McDonnell noted, “Every child in Virginia deserves the basic opportunity of a quality education. This funding will help allow us to improve and reform schools that have underperformed for far too long. Providing world class educational opportunities for all of Virginia’s children is a bipartisan goal that we are committed to achieving.”