Curtis to get $6 million federal grant

Wichita's Curtis Middle School will receive a $6 million federal grant over three years in an effort to pull itself off the list of the five lowest-performing, high-poverty schools in the state.

The state Board of Education voted Tuesday to award about $22.6 million in federal school improvement grants to six of its worst performing schools, based on state assessment scores.

Curtis, a 600-student middle school at 1031 S. Edgemoor, received the most money to transform how the school operates.

"This will change the face of Curtis for sure," said Denise Seguine, chief academic officer for the Wichita district. "It will change the school culture, how teachers interact with students and parents. It's going to change how teachers teach."

She said there isn't enough time before school starts to implement the comprehensive plan, and the school will make the changes over the three-year period of the grant.

Changes that could be in place by the start of the new school year include a data management system to better track students' academic progress and training for teachers on how to effectively teach math and reading to all students, Seguine said.

Which changes can be made will rely heavily on the availability of experienced and qualified teachers, she said. Curtis will need to hire more teachers to allow for a class period of training for all teachers during the school day.

The Curtis application also focuses on:

* English Language Learner students, by encouraging all teachers to earn a certification to better communicate with the 40 percent of students who need to improve their English skills

* Parent involvement in hiring more staff to engage parents who speak limited English

* Student access to technology for projects and after-school programs.