Fayette County Public Schools is receiving $2.3 million through a new federal "EduJobs" program this year, and the district plans to spend the money to close achievement gaps and get ready for new core content standards.
About half the money would go for hiring academic coaches to help middle and high school schools raise test scores and reduce dropout rates.
The rest of the money would help teachers prepare for new, tougher Kentucky core content standards in math and English in grades K-12 that will kick in next school year.
The overall plan must be approved by the Fayette County Board of Education. The district hopes to get another $2.3 million from the EduJobs program next year.
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Statewide, school districts expect to get $135 million from the federal Education Job Fund, also called EduJobs. The fund is distributing $10 billion nationwide to help schools preserve or create jobs in K-12 education.
Mike McKenzie, high school director for Fayette schools, said district officials considered various ideas for using EduJobs money, seeking an approach that would keep generating dividends for students long after the grant money is spent.
"If you do that, the impact can be exponential," he said.
The plan calls for new math coaches and English language arts coaches in middle schools. Each coach would serve two middle schools. One coach also would be hired to help all district middle schools improve their SAFE programs.
SAFE (Suspensions and Failure Eliminated) is in-house suspension for middle school students who violate rules. The new SAFE coach would help beef up the instruction children receive while they're in SAFE.
Another part of the plan calls for each high school to get a math coach and an English language arts coach to assist teachers. Each high school also would get a dropout prevention coach.
According to McKenzie and Kelley Ransdell, the district's middle schools director, doing all that will mean creating at least 28 positions. Many probably would be filled in-house, they said, although new teachers would have to be hired to replace those who moved into the new jobs.
The district began posting the jobs Thursday, Ransdell said, and officials hope to have them filled and ready to go when students return from winter break on Jan. 3.
McKenzie said the rest of the EduJobs money would compensate teachers for the professional development time they will have to put in after hours or on weekends to prepare for the new state content standards. Preparation probably will continue into the early part of the summer, he said.
Educators say the new standards will cover fewer topics but demand a deeper mastery from students. For example, Algebra 1, now typically taught starting in ninth grade, could be taught in eighth grade under the new standards.