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Grant funds sought for incubator school

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON - Cabell County Schools will seek up to $300,000 from the West Virginia Department of Education through the state's Innovation Zone program that was established by the legislation in 2009.

Officials said this process was encouraged by the state board of education because a waiver for professional development time will be needed for a new incubator school adopting the Expeditionary Learning model. And, if approved, funding can help offset expected costs for the professional development expected to start in January and last for two years leading up to the opening of the school for the 2015-2016 school year.

Jeff Smith, assistant superintendent for school improvement, presented board members with pieces of the Innovation Zone grant application Tuesday night, discussing the vision and goals of the school.

In Expeditionary Learning schools, students learn by conducting "expeditions" rather than by sitting in a classroom being taught one subject at a time. The expeditions encompass all the necessary curriculum work -- inside and outside the classroom -- to answer a question or address a problem that is unique to the school's community.

The plan includes consolidating Peyton and Geneva Kent elementary schools and moving students into the Beverly Hills Middle School facility on Saltwell Road. It will be renovated in 2014 and some of 2015 to meet the state code for elementary schools as well as fit the Expeditionary Learning model.

Innovation Zone grants typically are given for two years with a maximum of $50,000 per year. But if a plan is tied to dropout prevention, grants can be good for up to three years and $100,000 per year. Smith said they are tying the grant to dropout prevention because the learning model stresses positive learning habits and pushes students toward achieving a standard of excellence rather than settling for mediocrity.

The application, which was unanimously approved by board members, includes a request for a waiver to allow professional development to take place for two hours each week. At other Expeditionary Learning schools, students are either dismissed early or community programs are brought into the school to offer enrichment for students while teachers are engaged in professional development.

The next step in the process is the public hearings for the closings and consolidation of the schools. The hearing for Geneva Kent will be held at the school at 6 p.m. Oct. 28. The following evening at 6 p.m., a public hearing will be held at Peyton Elementary.

Board members are expected to vote on the closures and consolidation in November. If approved, the school system will then begin the hiring process for administrators and teachers.



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