RIF grant to ‘restart’ 3 Providence schools

THE Rhode Island Foundation announced Tuesday it will grant $100,000 toward overhauling three Providence schools.
Posted 2/7/12

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Foundation announced Tuesday that it will grant $100,000 in a first step toward overhauling three Providence schools.

The money will go to United Providence, a partnership between the Providence Public School District and the Providence Teachers Union AFT Local 958, to “lead intervention efforts at three struggling Providence schools.”

“The cooperative effort is one of the first such efforts of its kind between labor and management in the country,” a news release said, while noting that it hopes to be a replicable model.

“This partnership is an important step for Providence schools,” said Neil D. Steinberg, Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO. “Given the Foundation’s strong ongoing commitment to public education in our state, we are confident that working together to address the challenges that have been identified, the district and the union will make a tremendous difference in turning around these three schools.”

The funding – basically a planning grant - will go toward hiring a national nonprofit company, Mass Insight Education, that specializes in helping public schools improve their performance. The organization will outline a strategic plan and a three-year business plan to address staffing, timelines and budget issues by March.

The three schools are Carl G. Lauro Elementary School, Gilbert Stuart Middle School and Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, identified as “persistently lowest achieving” schools - now called “Innovation Schools.”

The grant is the first step toward overhauling the schools’ model. Eventually, the plan is for the schools to undergo the “Restart” model outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, requiring the schools to convert or re-open as a different operating model, such as a charter school operator, a charge management organization or an education management organization.

United Providence will incorporate as an education management organization 501(c)(3) to be the “lead partner” at the three schools, having management authority and flexibility; it will be held accountable, under a 3-5 year contract, for student achievement.

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