Ferriday schools get big bucks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; Collectively three Ferriday schools have nearly $300,000 in extra money coming their way this year, but it&8217;s not necessarily as great as it sounds, administrators said.

Ferriday Lower, Upper and Junior High are getting two installments each of Title I School Improvement money.

All the money must be spent according the school&8217;s written school improvement plan. Purchases must be approved by the state &8212; putting limits on how the money can really be spent and creating quite a long trail of paperwork, Ferriday Lower Principal Loretta Peterman Blankenstein said.

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&8220;All of these funds have certain stipulations,&8221; she said. &8220;You can&8217;t go out and buy student desks if you need them. It has to be directly related to the school improvement plan.&8221;

Ferriday Lower must spend $43,576.26 by September, meaning the money can&8217;t go to hire any personnel. Their other installment, $62,576.38, can be stretched over the school year.

Blankenstein said the school has purchased a new math software program with the money. The Waterford math program will be installed on computers in all grade levels throughout the school. Students will be able to work with the program. The money will also buy four laptop computers for math enrichment classes starting this year.

Ferriday Lower already uses Waterford materials to teach reading, and Blankenstein said she thought it was best to continue with the program across subjects.

The remaining money will be spent on a part-time reading interventionist, two paraprofessionals and staff development throughout the year.

All of Blankenstein&8217;s purchases must be approved by a state committee.

&8220;It&8217;s not like you are given this pot of money to spend and you say, &8216;Oh boy, I have free money,&8217;&8221; she said.

At Ferriday Upper, the money is $56,466.18 and $30,313.92.

Principal Cindy Smith said she plans to spend some of the money on a reading interventionist for fourth- and fifth-grade.

Currently students in kindergarten through third-grade work with reading interventionist through the Reading First grant. Smith said she wants to extend that system into the higher grades. Interventionists meet daily with students struggling to read and work one-on-one through skills.

Ferriday Upper&8217;s money is also buying needed supplies for training and a reading intervention classroom.

Ferriday Junior High received $56,798.70 and $31,035.68. Principal Dorothy Parker was not available for comment, but Superintendent Kerry Laster said the school would also focus on reading.

School Improvement funds are available from the state only to schools in level two-school improvement or worse.

All three Ferriday schools are in level 2.

Each school gets a base allocation, then extra depending on enrollment.

Laster said the funds are a reallocation of money not used in Orleans Parish. School enrollment numbers in the New Orleans area are drastically down since Hurricane Katrina.