Millions of Stimulus Dollars Used to Improve Education

Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 11:04 pm
By: News On 6

By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Tulsa and Oklahoma City school districts are counting on millions in stimulus dollars to turn their schools around. Both districts are currently on the state's probation list for accreditation.

The districts are implementing a new program called ACT America's Choice.

"We have a lot of confidence in the fact it is going to help our students," said Dr. Sheli McAdoo, OKCPS Executive Director of Secondary School Reform.

The program aims to give students more depth of knowledge. It adds rigorous curicullum in all classes and provides Ramp Up courses for students two or more grade levels behind.

"I've seen other things we've tried over the years, but this particular program, I believe in it," said Allen Blaylock, a Douglass High Ramp Up to Algebra One teacher. 

According to the most recent numbers, the Oklahoma City Public School District's graduation rate is 70.4 percent, while the Tulsa Public School District's rate is 70 percent. OKCPS Superintendent Karl Springer said she is counting on this program to improve those statistics.

"That's unacceptable. We want to have virtually everybody graduate from high school, ready to go to college, ready to go to work and have those kinds of readiness skills so they can be instantly successful," Springer said.

Springer said she believes ACT America's Choice could eventually bring the graduation rate up to 90 percent or better.

The Oklahoma City Public School District will spend $2.7 million in stimulus dollars over the next three years on the program. The Tulsa school district plans to dish out $2.85 million this year. The money will go toward teacher training, curicullum and independent assessments.

Once stimulus dollars run out, the districts will have to continue funding the program themselves. They expect the cost to drop dramatically over the next few years.