Creech Road Elementary School will share a $1.1 million federal grant to boost counseling services with three other schools over the next three years.
The grant comes at the beginning of a school year in which other federal dollars were cut off to the school in north Garner. The loss of those funds will end money funding extra teachers to reduce class size as well as incentive bonuses at Creech.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program will allow the schools to increase the number of counselors on staff and provide outreach catering to unique needs of bilingual and military families.
It targets attendance rates, discipline, counselor to student ratios, academic performance and social skill development. Funds can also be used to promote parental involvement, professional development and partnerships with mental health organizations.
“We know that strong counseling and other student support services are directly tied to increased academic performance.” said Cathy Moore, WCPSS Deputy Superintendent for School Performance.
Fox Road, Green and Lynn Road elementary schools will also share the grant.
Over the past three years Creech and four different schools had received $8 million through the Renaissance Schools program, which was cut off last summer. That money had gone toward smaller class sizes, additional help to students, signing and performance bonuses for teachers, extra staff training and new technology.
The federally funded program had been promoted by a former-Republican school board as a way to help struggling schools, and the Democrat-led school board decided not to continue that program.
Since incoming and outgoing grants fund different functions, how Creech will be affected on the whole remains difficult to predict. But it appears class sizes might rise as student-to-counselor rates fall.
The Renaissance money had also gone to Barwell Road, Brentwood, Wilburn and Walnut Creek elementary schools. About $1.5 million of it went to signing bonuses encouraging educator talent to apply to teach at the schools: $7,000 for principals and $2,900 for teachers if they stayed the full year. Another $836,0000 was distributed based on performance on state exams and classroom evaluations.
Extra teachers were also supplied to reduce class size. Tony Tata, superintendent when the Renaissance program was implemented, said the program was crucial to schools in particular need of resources.
The schools remain among the lowest-performing schools in the county.