Two underperforming Tacoma schools will get federal funds to boost student achievement

Tacoma News TribuneMay 8, 2014 

Two Tacoma schools are among 13 schools statewide that will receive federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding, state education officials announced Thursday.

First Creek Middle School and Roosevelt Elementary School will each receive the money for three years. State officials are still determining how much money will go to each of the 13 schools.

In its grant application filed earlier this year, Tacoma Public Schools asked for a total of $5.5 million over the course of the three-year grant period.

SIG grants are targeted at high-poverty schools labeled as priority schools -- where state test scores are among the lowest 5 percent in the state. These grants are for schools named to the state priority list for the 2013-14 school year. The most recent state priority list was announced earlier this week, and Roosevelt and First Creek were also on that list.

SIG money can be spent on a variety of activities, including teacher training, supplies and before-and-after school programs designed to boost student achievement. In its grant application, Tacoma said it would spend the money on a variety of programs, everything from conversational Spanish lessons to help teachers communicate better with their Spanish-speaking students to after-school enrichment for students.

This is the third group of SIG grants for Washington state. Four Tacoma middle schools received three-year SIG grants in 2010.

Schools selected as SIG grant recipients must adopt one of four federal intervention models. Both Tacoma schools have chosen the transformation model. Ordinarily, that model would mean a new principal for each school.

But Tacoma officials asked that the current Roosevelt principal, Autumn Foster, remain in place. She just came to the school this year. At First Creek, Becky Owens and Tammy Larsen will become co-principals at First Creek in the fall.

Transformation schools must also institute instructional reforms and increase learning time for students, among other mandates.

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