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U.S. Department of Education Awards $22 Million to Illinois Schools

Updated: Saturday, April 19 2014, 05:16 PM CDT
More cash is coming in for Illinois schools. A federal grant will be given only to the lowest performing schools in the state. The Board of Education is taking applications from those districts to award multi-million dollar School Improvement Grants.

In the past, millions have gone to local schools through this grant. For example, ISBE awarded more than $5 million to Lanphier High School. For the current round of SIGs, there are a handful of local schools who qualify for some of the $22 million available.

The grants are meant to improve student performance. School officials at Lanphier say it's allowed them to add enrichment classes and extended classroom time. Some parents tell us they see the school is making some improvements.

"I just see my granddaughter has come up a whole lot since she started at Lanphier," Ruth Evans said about her granddaughter.

"I think they're attempting it. My son has an algebra teacher here, Mr. Stevens, and Mr. Stevens offers him tutoring a few days a week at no cost to me. He's also in algebra enrichment because that's one of the classes he's really struggled with," parent Judy Oger said.

SIGs are awarded to the schools that are persistently in the lowest five percent for school performance, provided the school has a detailed plan for how they will use the money to improve.

"The idea is to give them some funds over a three year period so they can really begin the process of turning the school around--the school itself and the processes within the school just to basically look at improving school performance," ISBE spokesperson Matt Vanover said.

The ISBE's priority list contains a long list of schools in the Chicago Public Schools system, but that doesn't necessarily mean that district will get more money.

"It is a long list and probably less than 10 will actually get a grant," Vanover said.

Those 10 or so districts will be chosen from the priority list using a complex application. ISBE hopes to have that application ready later this spring.

Locally, Lee School and Matheny-Withrow Elementary both qualify for the grant, and several parents in say they believe the district should go after the cash.

"Anything to help the schools and the children in this district," Oger said.

The $22 million is a three-year grant. Schools that get the grant will be given their share of funding through 2017. During that time, ISBE will check in with the schools to see if the school is improving.

Besides being persistently in the lowest-performing five percent of schools, schools can also make the priority list for the grant for showing a lack of progress, or having a graduation rate under 60 percent.U.S. Department of Education Awards $22 Million to Illinois Schools

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