Skyline Selected to Share $6.2 Million in Federal Money
November 22, 2010
Filed under News
Beginning with this school year, Skyline will be sharing a $6.2 million federal grant with Oakland Tech and Oakland High.
Skyline’s recent work with Atlas and the 9th grade houses have earned the school, money exclusively for the continuation and improvement of the small learning communities on campus. The grant supports a five year plan that will cover the expenses of making changes within the school.
“You don’t want to throw away your money in a rat hole,” said the new 9th-grade assistant principal, Mr. Rogers, “The grant was given to us to continue the strength of Atlas [which has shown considerable promise].”
Already, the grant has been used to hire new administrative personal. Mr. Rogers, who began the year as the Cyber High director, was recently promoted as the new ninth grade assistant principal. Each grade is now able to have its own assistant principal. Ms. Arkin, Mr. Blye, and Mr. Trinh are the assistant principals for the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades respectively.
The grant has requirements which include the development of a strong 9th grade curriculum, the establishment of a college and career planning tool, and the standardization and documentation of every meeting between freshmen teachers.
Mr. Orphal, a freshmen Foundations of World History teacher, has been hired as Skyline’s grant coordinator. He will be in charge of helping the 16 freshmen teachers set up meetings to discuss how to improve instruction and how to get students help. Mr. Orphal will also be in charge of coming up with tutoring and intervention services, improving the new advisory period, and designing the college and career tool.
“The grant is based on the belief that students will do better in school if they are not lost in a big school,” he said.
The main goals of the grant are to improve standardized test scores and to reduce the dropout rate. According to Mr. Orphal, freshmen English scores are expected to increase by 8%, while math scores are expected to increase by 25% each year. Historically, 40% of Skyline freshmen do not graduate. The freshmen staff will work on pushing students to an academic path that will prevent this.
The grant will also focus on helping African-Americans, Latinos, and low-income students to challenge themselves in AP courses, said Mr. Orphal.
Some sophomores are skeptical of the purpose of the grant due to their disenchantment with Atlas last year.
“When I was in the freshmen house, it was really crappy,” said sophomore Irene Lam. “It did make us feel closer, but it sucks that we are stuck with the same people [every year].”
“There are better things to use our money for; how about finding better teachers?” she added.
Current sophomores also said they feel limited in the classes they are allowed to take. Every year, academy students are required to take at least one elective from their respective academies. Lam said, “I can be finishing P.E., but instead I’m taking a class where we don’t do anything.”
Others believe that it is useless to try to motivate students to focus on school in order to stay away from conflicts.
“Honestly, they are making a big deal all because of Atlas,” said one sophomore who wished to remain anonymous. “It starts with who you are. It starts with your parents.”
Right now, only freshmen are seeing the benefits of the grant. Upperclassmen will see the effects of the grants in the coming years.