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East St. Louis among districts getting improvement funds

SPRINGFIELD – Sixteen schools in nine districts will launch comprehensive changes this fall as the latest schools in the state to earn federal Title I Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grants worth $62.7 million.

The only Metro East district included is East St. Louis 189, which will receive $5.25 million each for Lincoln Middle School and for Mason-Clark Middle School. 

These grants will help the selected schools and districts make significant changes to improve student performance and college readiness. This year’s competition brings the total number of SIG awardees during the past five years to 17 Illinois districts and 49 schools that have undertaken similar overhauls with support of the federal grant and state resources.

 “These grants make it possible to ensure students on all levels are supported by effective teachers and adequate resources so they can graduate ready for success,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We will continue to work closely with these selected schools and districts as they implement comprehensive and transformative changes.”

Agency staff at the Illinois State Board of Education, as well as State Board members, regularly visit SIG Schools to monitor progress. Grants are awarded for three years, pending re-application and state approval each year.

For each eligible school approved to receive funds under this grant, the district must implement one of four intervention models: Turnaround, Restart, Transformation or School Closure, as approved by the U.S. Department of Education. FY 15 money will be allocated to each of the nine districts with the bulk of the money going toward the reform strategy at the specific schools and a smaller portion of funds going toward district oversight. All 16 schools have elected to implement a Transformation intervention model.

“This grant will help us to provide much needed support and services to students who are learning in a challenging environment,” said Dr. Michael Kuzniewski, superintendent of J. Sterling Morton HSD 20. “It will assist us in bringing outside resources to the classroom and ensuring they become embedded in practice.”

Twelve districts, identified as eligible to receive Priority Services under the Statewide System of Support, submitted a total of 28 proposals on behalf of eligible schools for the FY 15 School Improvement Grants. A team of 14 national external reviewers, selected for their expertise in both elementary and high school rapid improvement efforts and administrative experience, scored the applications to determine the 17 finalists. ISBE staff then interviewed teams from the finalist schools as part of the selection process. The Board approved the 16 selected schools and nine districts during the spring, and districts will receive funding during the fiscal year in order to implement new practices at the onset of the 2014-15 school year.

The SIG districts are required to work with one of 16 organizations, called Lead Partners, which have been pre-approved by the Illinois State Board of Education for their experience supporting schools in turnaround, restart, or transformative strategies. The state agency will also provide technical assistance during the process, and each district will have to reapply for continued annual funding with the Fiscal Year 2015 awardees re-applying in FY 2016 and FY 2017.

This year marks the fifth round of districts to apply and receive School Improvement Grant funds authorized under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

For a list of schools awarded funds during the past four fiscal years, visit this ISBE School Improvement Grant web page at

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