Four Midlands schools could see more money and get other help because of a new designation from the state Department of Education.
The four are among 43 schools statewide targeted by the Education Department for “comprehensive support and improvement.”
The new designation, rolled out for the first time this year, brings with it access to new federal and state money, a “transformation coach” for the school and a plan to turn its academics around.
“It’s not a good list to be on,” said Education Department spokesman Ryan Brown. “But it does come with a lot of support.”
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The 43 designated schools announced late Monday include C.A. Johnson High School and Forest Heights Elementary School in Richland School District 1, the Richland District 2 Charter High School, and Leaphart Elementary STEAM Magnet School in Lexington-Richland School District 5.
To be on the list, a school must be within the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools — where at least 40 percent of students come from low-income homes — or a high school with a graduation rate below 70 percent.
The report follows the release of report cards for all S.C. schools by the Education Department two weeks ago.
Brown said the amount of money made available will depend on the needs of the individual school but is likely to be in “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.
Identifying schools in need of major improvement is a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, which required every state to develop a plan to support under-performing schools.
In addition to new money, each school will get a transformation coach to help with the school’s individual needs and a “proven,” federally approved action plan.
“It could be a curriculum person or a special education person, depending on what they need,” Brown said. “They could have more than one.”
Perry Mills, principal at Richland 2 Charter High School, said he learned about the designation as it was being announced and is unsure how it will affect the Dentsville school.
“We have a target date in January when they will lay out what support is being offered and who will offer it,” Mills said. “But I don’t know what funds they are willing to give me, and I don’t know how they will allow them to be used.”
In a statement, Richland 1 said, “The district and the schools are continuing to work on improvement strategies and activities.”
Lexington-Richland 5 did not immediately respond to comment.