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Local schools' share of GPAs total $1.16 million

March 17, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

Nearly 30 Imperial County schools are set to receive a combined $1.16 million in state Governor's Performance Awards for improved student standardized test scores in 2000.

Amounts to be received locally range from Southwest High School's estimated top award of $100,614 to, on the low end, the $12,284 going to Holtville's Pine Elementary School. The money can used for nearly any purpose, including capital improvements, instructional materials or even staff bonuses.

Based on each school's ranking in the 2000 Academic Performance Index, those schools set to receive the funding demonstrated significant improvement over their API rankings and scores for the previous year.

API was introduced in 1999 and set the baseline for which schools throughout the state would set targeted growth amounts for the standardized SAT 9 exam for the ensuing years. The state last year set up a number of monetary-award incentive programs rewarding schools for meeting and exceeding those growth targets.


The Governor's Performance Awards, created from 1999 state Senate Bill SB1X, could be received locally by late April or early May, according to local superintendents.

Because the funding can be used for most anything, school site councils and school administrators throughout the county have already begun to compile wish lists they will in turn present to their school boards for approval.

The El Centro Elementary School District is set to receive the largest disbursement of Governor's Performance Award moneys with 11 schools nabbing nearly $390,000.

Said district Superintendent Michael Klentschy of the awards: "What accounted for this was the very fine job that our staff, teachers, administrators and parents have done in improving performance at our schools. … But we recognize we have room for growth."

Klentschy said efforts are afoot to "shore up" students' reading scores with the implementation of new programs.

He added the awards will likely be spent on staff bonuses and other projects that will benefit individual campuses, including technology improvements. Still, he said that is up to the individual schools.

JoAnn Julian, principal of Wilson Junior High School in El Centro, said her school's award of $52,998 will likely go toward computer equipment upgrades and the purchase of instructional materials.

"One of our more crucial needs is upgrading the computer equipment. It's ongoing as computer technology increases and improves at mind-boggling speeds," Julian said.

Julian added of her school's performance-based award: "We're delighted to have it. When you're running a school strictly on categorical funds based on the needs of children, you really have to spend those on your most crucial needs. Very seldom do you get the flexibility to spend on other things."

Southwest and Central Union high schools in El Centro were among the top earning individual schools — Southwest received $100,614 and Central, $93,143.

Central Union High School District Superintendent Richard Fragale said, "Each school site is making up a wish list and working with the site council."

Fragale said some of the Central district money will go toward capital improvements of the facilities.

"One suggestion has been to give teachers X amount of dollars to buy the supplies they need," he said. "Most of it will go into materials and supplies for students, some for staff development and some will go to upgrading classrooms."

While Brawley Elementary School District had only two schools receiving money — J.W. Oakley with $100,171 and Miguel Hidalgo with $87,697 — it actually breaks down into four schools, Oakley Principal Craig Casey said.

The state combines Oakley, which is a kindergarten through third-grade school, with Phil Swing, a kindergarten and fourth- through sixth-grade campus. The same holds true for Hidalgo, a K and 4-6, and Myron D. Witter Elementary, a K-3 school.

Casey said of the awards: "We're very, very proud. I want to commend my teachers for working hard, as well as the parents and paraeducators.

"We've raised the bar, demanding high expectations for our kids. We feel very pleased and proud," he added.

The award breaks down to around $48,000 for Oakley and $51,000 for Phil Swing.

Celia Santana, principal at Hidalgo, said, "It's really exciting. Basically, everybody's hard work is being rewarded."

Based on poll results of the entire school's staff, Santana said it has been determined the school's priorities lay in purchasing instructional materials and upgrading the school's technology.

Hidalgo will receive $43,000 and Witter, $44,000.

The only school in the Calexico Unified School District to earn a Governor's Performance Award was William Moreno Junior High School at $44,830.

"I think it's very gratifying for the staff and the parents and community here who have worked very hard," said William Moreno Principal Kevin Dorward.

He said William Moreno has traditionally pumped its moneys into student achievement, particularly with reading curriculum software and technology.

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