- Andrew Marra Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Three struggling Palm Beach County public schools have been selected by state officials to receive millions of dollars in extra money to help improve student performance.
The schools – Palm Beach Lakes High School, West Riviera Elementary and Gove Elementary – will receive an extra $7.5 million between them under the state’s new “Schools of Hope” program, part of controversial education legislation signed into law this spring, school district officials said.
The three schools all have “D” grades from the state and were selected Wednesday by the state Board of Education to be among 11 statewide to receive extra money. The 59 eligible schools were part of a larger group of 80 schools that received performance grades of two consecutive “Ds” or an “F” and had to submit turnaround plans to improve their standing.
All told, 59 schools statewide had been eligible, district officials said, but state officials picked schools based on the quality of their proposals for how to spend the money.
Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa said that school district leaders were “super pleased” to learn of the awards and called it a result of the district’s efforts to develop a coherent strategy for improving learning in the schools.
“We’ve got a vision, a mission, a set of core beliefs,” Avossa said.
He said that at each school a large portion of the money will be spent on “wraparound services,” including mental health and counseling services for students.
The award money was created by the Legislature this year as a component of controversial education legislation approved in House Bill 7069.
Lawmakers this year set aside $140 million in the new “schools of hope” program, specifying that a portion of the funding would be used to provide extra funding for up to 25 low-performing traditional public schools. The rest of the funding would go to “hope operators,” who could set up charter schools within five miles ofÂ “persistently” low-performing public schools.
Qualifying district-operated schools receive up to an extra $2,000 per student.
At Palm Beach Lakes High in West Palm Beach, that amounts to an extra $4.6 million, district officials said.
At West Riviera Elementary in Riviera Beach and Gove Elementary in Belle Glade, that’s an extra $1.5 million a piece.
Miami-Dade County has five schools on the approved list, followed by Palm Beach County with three, Bay County with two and Seminole County with one.