Portland's East End Community School eligible for improvement funds

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PORTLAND — For the second year in a row, a city elementary school is on the state’s list of under-performing schools eligible for special federal assistance.

East End Community School is one of 10 schools in the state not making adequate progress in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, the state Department of Education said in a press release Tuesday.

DOE spokesman David Connerty-Marin said the schools are not necessarily the lowest performing schools in the state, but they have failed to meet federal testing and growth standards over a three-year period.

The designation allows the schools to apply for a three-year federal School Improvement Grant to increase student improvement.

In a press release, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said though the department has concerns about how the list is compiled, it presents an opportunity for some schools to receive extra resources.

“What’s important is not how schools get on the list, or whether the list even makes sense,” Bowen said. “What’s important is the opportunity that is created by the list for some significant influx of funds to the school for professional development, after-school programming, and other work targeted at raising achievement.”

Last year, there was about $13 million available for struggling schools, but Connerty-Marin said there will be less money to distribute this year, so not every school will receive funding.

The 10 schools, including five high schools, this year will be applying for a portion of the $4 million available, he said.

Portland’s Chief Academic Officer David Galin said in a press release the district welcomed the opportunity to direct more resources toward improvements at the school.

“While this is a list that we’d rather not be on, we recognize the need to make improvements at East End Community School,” Galin said in a press release. “We welcome the opportunity to apply for additional resources at East End.”

Last year, Riverton Elementary School made the state list and received $3.4 million in grant money, which was used in part to extend the learning day, add enrichment activities and conduct more professional development.

Other schools on the list this year are Oak Hill High School in Wales, Fort Kent Community High School, Ellsworth Community High School, Southern Aroostook Community School, Hodgdon High School, Madison Area Memorial High school, Nokomis Regional High School, Lawrence High School, and Georges Valley High School in Thomaston.

Districts have until April 15 to apply for the grants, which are expected to be awarded by June 30.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings