Three schools will get $1.4 million from education nonprofit SchoolSmartKC to improve student performance, Kansas City Public Schools announced Friday.
Principal Dana Carter says she started to cry when she found out on the second-to-last day of school she’d have an additional $600,000 to implement Gladstone Elementary’s strategic plan.
“Literally, tears ran down my face,” Carter says. “It was a very exciting moment. Then when I shared it with our staff, it was screams of joy, everyone applauding.”
With the SchoolSmartKC money, Carter plans to hire a data coach to work with teachers on the state’s standards.
“We have many strengths, but we are not seeing the full results of our hard work,” Carter says. “We think a data coach will be able to walk us through looking at our students’ data and creating a plan going there, rigorous lesson plans to follow the pre-assessment.”
Fifty-nine percent of Gladstone Elementary students are English language learners. Carter says her students made significant enough gains this year to move off the state’s list of low-achieving “focus” schools.
Wendell Phillips Elementary also recently moved off the state’s focus list. Principal Deloris Brown will use SchoolSmartKC’s $600,000 grant to make Phillips a trauma-sensitive school.
“You have children who are going through very difficult things,” Brown says. “Very often, we’re expecting students to give us things they don’t have the skills to produce.”
Teachers and staff at Phillips will get training on how to respond to the trauma students bring with them to school. Brown says the school will also be able to host a three-day kindergarten boot camp before the start of school in August thanks to the grant.
Northeast High School received $200,000 from SchoolSmartKC to expand its Advanced Placement course offerings and develop student leaders. The school’s graduation rate has increased 14 percentage points in two years, from 54 percent in 2015 to 68 percent last year.
The grant process was competitive. Eight KCPS schools submitted applications in the fall. The schools that were awarded money will have three years to use it. SchoolSmartKC’s goal is to get a majority of schools in Kansas City performing at or above the state average by 2026.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.