Education Secretary Matthew Malone today announced $80,000 in grants to eight potential Innovation Schools across the Commonwealth. This funding builds on the Patrick-Murray Administration's continued efforts to close persistent achievement gaps, promote innovative and bold strategies in education and give students and their families greater access to high-quality public schools.
"I am extremely proud of the progress we've made on the Innovation School initiative as more and more schools step up to provide improved educational opportunities for Massachusetts students," said Governor Deval Patrick. "This robust and diverse group of schools demonstrates what can be achieved when local school communities are given the flexibility to be creative in their approach to helping all students achieve at high levels."
Initial prospectuses for these schools have already been approved by local stakeholders including superintendents, school committee members and union leaders and the grants will be used to develop robust innovation plans that will be presented to local school committees for final approval. Many of these schools could open as early as September 2013.
A signature component of Governor Patrick's Achievement Gap Act of 2010, Innovation Schools are in-district, charter-like public schools that use inventive strategies and creative approaches to education while keeping school funding within districts. Innovation Schools can utilize greater autonomy and flexibility with regard to curriculum, staffing, budget, schedule/calendar, professional development and district policies.
There are currently 44 operational Innovation Schools across Massachusetts. If these eight plans are fully approved, over 50 Innovation Schools could be up and running by fall 2013. The Administration awarded over $850,000 in Innovation School planning and implementation grants last year. Funding for Innovation School planning and implementation grants have been made available as part of a total of $2 million in support from the state's successful Race to the Top proposal and additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Secretary Malone announced today's round of planning grants at the Blackstone Elementary School in Boston, one of today's recipients whose Innovation School prospectus proposes seeking autonomies in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment, staffing, professional development and budget to sustain its success in improving student achievement outcomes as a turnaround school.
"It is exciting to see a school community, like the Blackstone School, that has made significant academic progress with its students, using the Innovation School model to sustain the gains made by seeking autonomies and flexibilities to continue to meet the needs of its students," said Education Secretary Matthew Malone.
In addition to the grant funding announced today, Governor Patrick recently proposed a $550 million investment in education, reaching $1 billion over four years, to expand access to high quality educational opportunities and make higher education more affordable for all students in Massachusetts. This historic investment would provide universal access to high quality early education for all children in Massachusetts from birth through age five; allow additional resources for high-need schools to extend learning time for students; increase Chapter 70 funding to K-12 districts; make higher education more affordable for students; and allow our community colleges to expand successful programs that are preparing students to thrive in the workplace. The Governor's plan also includes $1.5 million in funding to support the planning and implementation of additional innovation schools across the state.
For more information about Innovation Schools, please visit www.mass.gov/edu/innovationschools.