Two of the four struggling San Diego County schools that vied for help turning their schools around are poised to get funding, if the state follows through on its recommendations today.

Earlier this year, the California Department of Education made a list of persistently failing schools that were eligible for up to $6 million if they set forth a convincing plan to improve student achievement. Six schools in San Diego County made the list.

To compete for the money, the schools had to choose from four options, which included replacing staff, becoming a charter school, shutting down or making a long list of instructional reforms that add to learning time and make teachers more effective. Not everyone applied: Two schools-within-a-school at San Diego High decided that their reform plans didn’t mesh with the rules of the competition.

Now the California Department of Education has weighed the applications and made its recommendations for which schools should get the money and which shouldn’t:

  • Burbank Elementary in San Diego applied for more than $5 million and isn’t recommended to get any funding. State officials gave it a lower score for its application than other competing schools. This is a blow for San Diego Unified: Burbank was the only school in the district that applied and a test case for its slow-and-steady take on school reform.
  • Felicita Elementary in Escondido applied for $5.3 million and the state recommended that it get all of it. Its reform plans include replacing much of its staff, a controversial step that has stirred up parent protest. The North County Times has done a nice job following the debate there.
  • King-Chavez Arts Academy, one of a system of charter schools in Barrio Logan, is slated to get roughly $1 million to undertake a list of instructional reforms. That’s about $280,000 less than it applied for, but still a sizable grant for a small school. You might remember that the Arts Academy was in a fix because it had already undertaken almost all of the reforms that the state prescribed for failing schools. But it figured out a new reform plan anyway — and convinced the state to get behind it.
  • The Charter School of San Diego, an independent study program, applied for $6 million but was disqualified. The reasons aren’t clear from the state documents; I’ll try to find out more.

The State Board of Education will review the tentative list of awardees and decide whether to approve it today. To see the full list of schools that applied and how much they could be awarded, click here and scroll down to Item 4, Attachment 8.


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