GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — The Greenville County School Board will vote next week on a proposal to adopt a new program at two underperforming schools.
The four-year program, called Elevate, is being proposed for Alexander Elementary School and Lakeview Middle School — schools that have struggled for years with low grades and test scores. Both schools are Title I schools, which receive federal funding because they serve low-income students.
“There’s a high relationship between students in poverty and lack of student academic achievement,” Dr. Burke Royster, the superintendent of Greenville County Schools, said.
“At Lakeview Middle School, if they have two more years in the status that they’re in, they’ll be taken over by the state Department of Education because of the level of performance there,” he added. “That is a disservice to our students in that school and a disservice to our community if we don’t act and do everything that we can conceivably design to try to avoid a takeover of that school.”
According to Royster, both schools have “a large turnover of personnel and a disproportionate number of first-year teachers and teachers coming from a non-traditional background.” The district has designed Elevate in response to this. If implemented, Elevate will offer incentives for employees at Alexander Elementary and Lakeview Middle School.
“We want to be able to recruit more experienced teachers, and when we do have a first year teacher, have those teachers stay longer in those two schools,” Royster said.
“If you come there as an experienced teacher, whatever you would make in another school in our district, you would make $5,000 more at Lakeview or Alexander,” he added. “Every employee in the school will have the opportunity to earn incentive money if the test scores improve – whether you’re part of the custodial staff, lunch room staff, or the secretary – because every employee contributes to the success of students.”
Royster said the district expects Elevate to cost about $8 million over four years. It will be funded by Title I funds and the district’s fund balance.
Current teachers, counselors and administrators at the schools will need to reapply for their positions for the next school year. If they are not selected to remain at Alexander Elementary and Lakeview Middle School, they will be reassigned to a different school in the district.
“No one will lose their job,” Royster said. “They may lose their assignment to Lakeview Middle School or Alexander Elementary School. We also would hope this will encourage people from other schools or experienced people from outside the district to apply for these jobs.”
The district hopes by reducing turnover and having experienced teachers in the classroom, students will have a better chance at succeeding.
The Greenville County School Board must vote to implement Elevate at its next meeting.
If the program is successful, Royster said the district will consider implementing it at other schools.