Those were the words of Griffin-Spalding County School System Superintendent Curtis Jones when he highlighted a grant opportunity for Griffin High during the last Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education meeting.
The School Improvement Grant — federal money administered by the states — will give out between $50,000 and $2 million per year for three years to those schools with successful applications. Griffin High is the only school in the system eligible to apply because its three-year graduation rate average is below 60 percent (55.9 percent).
The School Improvement Grant allows schools to determine one of four models — turnaround, restart, closure and transformation. Jones expressed his strong support for the transformation model to the board. Among a variety of guidelines, this model would identify and reward staff members who are increasing student outcomes.
The grant money cannot be used for construction or personnel. Instead, it must go toward quality instruction, which may include, for example, the hiring of professional development coaches, said Middle School Curriculum Director Cynthia Anderson.
“We cannot go out and hire more teachers. The goal is to build capacity,” so that when the grant money is gone, someone in-house can continue the work, Anderson said.
“They want you to build things that are sustainable long-term,” added Assistant Director of Federal Programs Ashley McLemore.
As the application deadline of April 15 nears, the school system will hold an open brainstorming session at 9 a.m. Saturday at Griffin High School to gather input from the community on what to include in the application.
“We are very excited about this possibility. We’ll let the community help us reconfigure, reignite Griffin High School,” Jones said.