Another midstate school to seek cash from feds

Hawkinsville High School will join the list of Middle Georgia schools pursuing federal school improvement grant funds, said Pulaski County superintendent Janis Sparrow.

The school qualifies for the funds because it showed a decline in Georgia High School Graduation Test scores in language arts and math from 2008 to 2009.

In 2008, 80.7 percent of Hawkinsville High students demonstrated proficiency in both subjects. A year later, that number fell to 72.1 percent.

Hawkinsville High is eligible to receive up to $2 million a year for three years to improve student achievement. To receive the funds, the school will have to adopt one of four models:

n The closure model, which involves closing a school and enrolling those students in other schools in the district.

n The restart model, in which a school reopens as a charter school.

n The turnaround model, which requires schools to replace the principal and half its staff, as well as putting a new instructional plan into place.

n The transformation model, which involves using a data-driven instructional model and evaluating teacher and leader effectiveness.

Pulaski County will pursue the transformation model, Sparrow said, because the other models would not be possible for the district’s size. Bibb and Peach schools also are pursing school improvement grants.

Of the 1,565 students in Pulaski County schools, 448 attend Hawkinsville High, according to school enrollment data.

Officials made the decision to go forward with the grant application because Mary Royal, the principal of Hawkinsville High, already made plans to retire at the end of the year. Royal has been the principal for five years, Sparrow said.

The matter was discussed at the Pulaski County Board of Education’s March 9 meeting, and the district may have another public meeting later on, Sparrow said. The application is due April 15.

She hopes the school can use the funds for areas such as staff training, as well as adding more counselors and math teachers.

“We see it as a great benefit addressing several areas. It’s addressing instruction, student achievement, behavior, student attendance,” Sparrow said. “Things that will address all these areas will impact student success.”

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.