Low-performing Hamilton schools hope for iZone turnaround - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Low-performing Hamilton schools hope for iZone turnaround

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- More qualified teachers, newer technology and additional hours in the classroom are soon coming to five low-performing Hamilton County schools.

Orchard Knob Elementary, Orchard Knob Middle, Woodmore Elementary, Dalewood Middle and Brainerd High are in the Innovation Zone (iZone).  The schools were grouped into the "zone" last year in an effort to obtain more than $10 million in federal grant money, administered by the Tennessee Department of Education.  A failed attempt at the grant last year impressed the state enough to provide $600,000 in planning funds, and a chance to re-apply.  The second time was the charm.

The school district's iZone director, Le Andrea Ware said, "We learned a lot from last year.  This year we knew what the expectations were, and we had more time to make detailed presentations on our goals."

Faculty overhauls have long been underway at the Orchard Knob schools, where elementary principal Lafrederick Thirkill and middle school principal Crystal Sorrells were put in place in 2011.  New principals were installed last August at Brainerd (Uras Agee), Dalewood (Christian Earl) and Woodmore (Cheri Grant).  Brainerd teachers were informed before Christmas that they would have to re-apply for their positions, and the staffing process for the 2013-14 school year is going on  now.

The grant money will be awarded on an annual basis for the next three years, based on test score improvement.  The five schools had been designated as among those in the lowest five percent in the state.  Hamilton County teacher recruiters have been marketing the iZone to potential hires, trumpeting the potential for the additional funding, which could add an estimated seven to ten thousand dollars to annual salaries.

Contact David Carroll:  dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/DAVIDCARROLL3

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