Winston Middle School Principal Eldon Thomas laughed with joy when she heard the news. Lydia Lemon, principal at Bay-Brook Elementary, envisioned the new books she could buy with her school's cash prize.
The two schools were among 33 Baltimore elementary, middle and high schools recognized by state education officials yesterday for doing well on a recent battery of standardized tests. Statewide, 562 schools were recognized.
Although the city school system as a whole scored below the state average on the Maryland School Assessment tests, which were administered in the spring, some schools did well enough to merit recognition.
The schools had high scores on the math and reading tests or boosted scores for a particular group of students, such as disabled students or those who qualify for free lunches.
Sixteen of the 33 city schools that were recognized qualify for federal poverty funds and will receive bonuses of $7,233 each for their test achievements. The money, totaling more than $115,000 for the city schools, can be spent on activities or on equipment to boost student performance or family involvement, according to the state Department of Education.
Until this year, the School Recognition Program provided extra cash to all schools it recognized. Reductions in federal and state funding forced state education officials to scale back the program.
Title I schools, which serve large numbers of children from poor families, are the only schools still receiving monetary rewards. Next year, state education officials do not expect to award any cash prizes.
Principals said the extra money will help them buy things they couldn't have afforded because of budget constraints.
"We're extremely excited," said Carolyn Cole, principal of Frederick Elementary, who plans to use the money to buy math software and to train parents to work with their children on math and writing.
The extra cash will enable Bay-Brook Elementary to continue a popular "book challenge" program in which pupils earn rewards for reading books.
"We really need more books," Lemon said. "They've reread them and reread them, and they're raggedy."
Rosemont Elementary Principal Sandra Ashe, who was surprised by the size of her school's windfall, said she will use the money to help pay for a software package that will supplement what pupils learn in class.
"It would be a shame to spend such a large amount of money on sundry school supplies," she said.
"I figure it's easier for me to get paper, pencils and erasers from [community] partnerships," Ashe said. "I'm looking for a big-ticket item that I can reach more kids with, ... something that will directly impact instruction."
Recognized by state
Baltimore schools honored for high or improved Maryland School Assessment scores:
Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary
Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary
Dr. Lillie M. Jackson Elementary
Elmer A. Henderson Elementary
Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle
Franklin Square Elementary
George Washington Elementary
Graceland Park Elementary
Maree Garnett Farring Elementary
Matthew A. Henson Elementary
Medfield Heights Elementary
Mount Royal Elementary/Middle
Mount Washington Elementary
National Academy Foundation High
New Song Academy
Roland Park Elementary/Middle
School for the Arts
Thomas Johnson Elementary
William Paca Elementary
William S. Baer School