Cedar Grove Middle School will lose three staffers, plus additional "transformation specialists," once the funding ends this year.
"We've had several positions that were not available without SIG: interventionists for math and language arts, technology integration specialists," Principal Melissa Lawrence said. "It sounds very scary, because all of that money that went toward creating those positions will be gone, but there was also a great amount of support that was built into that."
With the funding, Cedar Grove has upgraded its library and computer labs. More importantly to Lawrence, a chunk of funding has put a much-needed spotlight on her school.
The attention to Cedar Grove's needs helped draw more parent and community support than ever before, Lawrence said. The school now has a functioning PTO for the first time in years.
"This process pushed people to get involved. That, in and of itself, will generate sustainability," she said. "We have seen tremendous growth over the past three years, and our teachers have worked very closely with the outside consultants that have helped guide us in that direction. They've taught us so much, and we are going to take those strategies and build upon them year after year."
But Michelle Blatt, executive director of the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of School Improvement, said the additional positions that SIG monies brought in don't necessarily have to go.
Counties have the choice to transfer other federal funding, such as Title I money, to continue the use of personnel brought in under the program.
The Department of Education recently wrapped up a session with the state's SIG schools that focused on sustaining the improvement schools made, Blatt said.
"We're talking about sustainability," she said. "When the money goes away, principals will know how to prioritize the things they've been doing that they can hold onto, no matter what. We want to make sure that everything doesn't stop when the funding does."
Blatt believes the SIG funding has served its purpose: to improve teaching skills and school environments in order to increase student achievement.
"The grants were secured to bring in additional experts to boost staffing, and ultimately, student achievement," Blatt said. "The majority of the money was spent on staffing because that was the intent of the money from the start -- to hire outside experts to help.
"Kanawha County, in particular, has done a great job at putting a lot of work into that," she said. "Of course, it takes more than three years to turn around low-performing schools, but we are pleased with the gains we've seen so far."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.