R.L. Austin, GES, receive #036;15,100 from state

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Butler County Schools received an added bonus last week when Gov. Bob Riley announced that 313 schools would receive $3 million in state funding for making significant school improvements over the last year.

R.L. Austin Elementary in Georgiana will receive $8,500 and Greenville Elementary School will receive $6,600 as part of the Governor's plan to award state schools for making strides in student achievement.

&#8220These rewards honor our teachers and schools that demand excellence in the classroom and are achieving results, and they will inspire other schools to do the same,” Riley said. &#8220With these rewards, the schools can offer bonuses to teachers, provide for additional professional training or put new technology in their classrooms. I hope this is a program we can continue and expand next year and for years to come.”

Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney was pleased by the announcement.

&#8220We're delighted for those two schools,” said Looney. &#8220They worked real hard as evidenced by the results. Certainly, with low levels of local funding it's exciting when our schools receive any funding from outside sources.”

Looney said the faculty of both R.L. Austin Elementary and Greenville Elementary would have a say in how the funding is spent at their respective schools. That is one of the stipulations, said Looney.

&#8220They'll come to a consensus on how to spend the money,” he said. &#8220I think this is just one more indicator that Butler County Schools are on the right track. We still have a long way to go to get to a level of academic excellence that's acceptable. But I think if we stay the course, we will continue to improve.”

Looney said he was somewhat surprised more Butler County Schools weren't included.

&#8220I think the criteria was that the schools had to show improvement for two consecutive years,” he said. &#8220I did notice that a number of the magnet schools in Montgomery received funds. Taking nothing away from magnet schools - which are wonderful institutions - but I don't think they had to meet the same challenges as we did.”

Riley has proposed an education plan that provides $50 million over the next four years in monetary incentives to schools that demonstrate their commitment to improving student achievement.

A committee of Alabama educators and stakeholders used student test data from the 2005-2006 school year to determine which schools were eligible for the rewards. The State Department of Education identified five major categories by which schools were identified for outstanding achievement, and the following criteria were used for identification of schools eligible for rewards based on 2005-2006 test data:

Advancing the Challenge – Schools where the percent of students scoring advanced in reading and math exceeded state percent scoring advanced. (School must have at least an 80 percent poverty rate.)

Meeting the Challenge – Schools that met Adequate Yearly Progress goals for two consecutive years. (School must have at least an 80 percent poverty rate.)

Exceeding the Challenge – Schools with subgroup whose percent of students scoring proficient in reading and math exceeded its state counterpart. (Schools will receive a monetary reward for each subgroup.)

Addressing the Challenge – Schools with subgroup that closed the achievement gap in percent of students scoring proficient in reading and math by at least 15 percent when compared to its state counterpart. (Schools will receive a monetary reward for each subgroup. Schools must have at least an 80 percent poverty rate.)

Torchbearer School – Schools meeting multiple criteria including poverty, high test scores, and making Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years.

Greenville Elementary School received its award for Addressing the Challenge, while R.L. Austin received funding for Meeting the Challenge.