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    Memphis schools to get millions in federal funds to boost performance

    By Jane Roberts - The Commercial Appeal -

    Seven Memphis schools will split $14.8 million in federal funds over three years, part of a state focus to end years of systemic poor public education in the city.

    The schools receiving the funds are: Chickasaw Middle, Fairley Elementary, Ford Road Elementary, Geeter Middle, Hamilton Middle, Lucy E. Campbell Elementary and Magnolia Elementary.

    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced the awards this morning in Nashville.

    Seven other schools, six of them in Memphis that are part of the Achievement School District, will split $10.4 million to turn around schools that score in the bottom five percent across the state. Those schools are Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, which is taking over Lester School in Binghamton, Corning Elementary, Westside Middle and Frayser Elementary, all in Frayser, and Gordon Science and Arts Academy, starting this fall in Gordon Elementary. The academy will be run by Gestalt Community Schools, a charter group in Memphis that has the distinction of running the middle school that made the largest academic gains in the state this year.

    The seventh school is Brick Church Middle in Nashville.

    The federal money is being allocated through School Improvement Grants and is meant to turn around persistently low-performing schools.

    The bulk of the money in Memphis is going to “innovation zone” schools, where principals will have complete say over hiring and flexibility to add programs to meet students’ needs. The school day will be at least an hour longer in each "iZone" school, starting this fall. School leaders are expected to improve ties with community partners, including local adopters, to create stronger buy-in with the public on school performance.