HCPS eyes federal grant

Published 10:28 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

WINTON – Hertford County Public Schools will potentially be part of a $15 million grant through the North Carolina New Schools Project.

The NC New Schools Project (NCNSP) was chosen from among nearly 600 applicants across the country as one of just 23 organizations to potentially share $150 million under the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) competitive grant program.

The initiative from NCNSP is the only proposal in the state recognized for funding in the highly competitive program and HCPS is one of just six districts signed on as partners.

“At HCPS, we are excited to be a part of this difficult to obtain grant,” said Hertford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Fahey. “Our high schools are doing well with proficiency rates and graduation rate, 21 out of 115 school districts.

“We hope that this grant will help us perform as well with the new Common Core coming to North Carolina,” he added.

One of the key issues for the New Schools Project was to raise $1.5 million in pledges to meet the required private sector match for the federal grant, which will extend successful early college strategies to as many as 20 traditional high schools in rural, low-income communities across the state.

Pledges to achieve the grant match came from the following: the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Fred Eshelman, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Golden Corral and Investors Management Corporation, the Golden LEAF Foundation, the Hidalgo Family, Kryosphere, Lenovo, Lumbee Guaranty Bank, Novartis, SAS, The Lauren & James Whitehurst Family Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, who appealed to corporate and foundation leaders for support, said she believes the initiative will bring new opportunities to many students in the rural areas of the state.

“Every child, no matter where they live, should graduate high school ready for a career, college or technical training,” Gov. Perdue said. “I want to personally thank the businesses, individuals and organizations that contributed to helping secure this grant. Because of their generosity, the North Carolina New Schools Project will be able to reach even more students in more communities.”

The gratefulness extended to NCNSP President Tony Habit.

“This speaks to our progress as a state,” Habit said. “The U.S. Department of Education has signaled its confidence in the state’s progressive efforts to improve educational opportunities for all students, and key leaders in North Carolina think that such education innovation is an important investment.”

The North Carolina New Schools Project, in partnership with the State Board of Education, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the N.C. Community College System, the SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro and local school districts, will use the federal grant to apply lessons learned from the state’s growing number of early college high schools, which focus on ensuring that all students graduate ready for college and careers.

High schools in six rural county districts are currently included in the initiative proposal. Included along with Hertford County are Beaufort County, Madison County, Richmond County, Sampson County and Wilkes County. Additional schools in other districts are likely to be identified as partners in the effort.

With 74 early college high schools now open in 63 counties – from some of the state’s largest to some of its smallest – North Carolina claims about a third of the innovative schools nationwide. The mold-breaking schools allow students to earn an associate degree or significant college credit, tuition free, along with their high school diploma. The schools are intended to serve students who are often underrepresented in college, including those from low-income families, minorities and those whose parents didn’t attend college.

The NC New Schools Project has been heavily involved in both Hertford County Public Schools and Bertie County Schools. They have helped in the development of the Hertford County Early College High School, the Bertie Early College High School and the Bertie STEM High School.