From securing major federal and state grants to completing the construction of a new elementary school, 2010 has proved to be a productive year for Bradley County Schools.
In 2010, Bradley County Schools received a $2.5 million Smaller Learning Communities grant, a $1.4 million Race to the Top grant and $30,000 PE4Life grant.
In addition to the recently constructed Park View Elementary School, located on Minnis Road, the school system added a media center and overall facelift to Valley View Elementary School and began constructing a new 600-seat Fine Arts facility at Bradley Central High School.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments within Bradley County Schools in 2010 and I very much look forward to what we’re going to accomplish in 2011,” said Bradley County Schools director Johnny McDaniel.
The Race to the Top grant is a federal grant provided through the U.S. Department of Education. In March, Tennessee was awarded $500 million through the grant. Half of the grant funds was given to the Tennessee Department of Education, while the remaining $250 million was divided between the 136 school systems across the state.
With the grant, Bradley County Schools has used the funds for professional development training in areas including scoring students’ writing, ACT scores, training in data analysis, TCAP scores, formative assessment, progress monitoring and technological program training.
“The training is going very well. The feedback I’ve received from teachers and principals has been very favorable,” said McDaniel.
The county schools director noted with the recent changes in state education standards being more rigorous, the training is imperative for teachers. He said next year, teachers’ evaluations will be tied to students’ performance on state tests.
To further combat the new state education standards, earlier this year the county school system collaborated with Cleveland City Schools to apply for the Smaller Learning Communities grant. The idea behind the SLC grant is a focus on creating groups of students and faculty that are smaller and more personal for schools with student populations of more than 1,000. The academies allow teachers the opportunity to get to know the students better and follow student academic progress in a more personal way.
In October, the U.S. Department of Education announced Bradley County Schools received the SLC grant. The school system, in collaboration with Cleveland City Schools, is one of only 28 recipients nationwide to receive the grant, and the only system in Tennessee.
According to McDaniel, the funds are being used to implement a sophomore academy and a career academy for students.
“We’ll also hire expert consultants to do studies on these academies to see where we are and where we want to go,” he said.
The International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Education programs — two outstanding programs, according to McDaniel — will also be brought to the county schools through the SLC grant. Both Lee University and Cleveland State Community College have already partnered with the two county high schools to allow students a jump start on college credit courses.
Health is also an important part of a student’s education, according to Bradley County Schools Coordinated School Health director Andrea Lockerby.
“Healthy students equals healthy learners,” said Lockerby.
“We’re very thankful to the United Way Bradley Memorial Hospital fund for giving us the PE4Life grant,” she said.
Through the PE4Life grant, county schools have been providing students with nutrition information and implementing programs to increase student physical activity.
“The PE4Life grant really impacted the schools and how we purchase food. We were ahead of the game already, but we continue to strive to provide good, nutritious meals with fresh vegetables. We’ve replaced many of the fatty, sweet foods with fresh fruits. And, we offer healthy alternatives, like salads, for students, too,” said McDaniel.
PE4Life funds were also used to build a rock wall at Waterville Elementary School, and fitness room at Ocoee Middle School complete with spinner bicycles, rowing machines and a Nintendo Wii Fit gaming station. Walker Valley High School purchased heart monitors for its physical education classes. The school system has also started developing action-based learning labs where physical activity is included with academics.
Lockerby, several physical education teachers and school administrators attended a two-day PE4Life training academy in Indianapolis.
“We came back with a renewed vision and a sense of where the schools should be. The training focused not only on nutrition and physical education, but overall wellness for the entire district,” she said.
The Tennessee Department of Health also granted Bradley County Schools with a $250,000 grant focused on diabetes prevention in 2010.
In an October interview, June McDonald, assistant director of Coordinated School Health said Type 2 diabetes, which has been directly linked to obesity through eating habits and lack of physical activity, is becoming more prevalent in the school system. The funds will be used to build walking trails and at Waterville Community, Taylor, Valley View, Black Fox and Blue Springs Elementary schools. A low-rope course will also be built at Lake Forest Middle.
McDaniel noted county schools has also received several grants through the Bradley-Cleveland Public Education Foundation.
“We’re very thankful to receive these grants and the grants of many other generous donors in the community,” he said.
Population growth, specifically student population growth, was a major concern for the county school system this year.
“Opening Park View Elementary this year has been a big accomplishment because of the tremendous growth we’re experiencing in our area. After looking at the BCC 2035 Strategic Plan with the Bradley County Commission, the prediction is that eastern area of the county will be one of the faster growing areas. Park View has relieved crowding at Oak Grove, Taylor and Michigan Avenue Elementary schools,” said McDaniel.
The $1.8 million renovation project at Valley View Elementary School also added a few new classrooms, office space and media center to the school. With the new addition, the school was able to eliminate a portable it had been using for classroom space.
Although it won’t be completed until May 2011, much of the construction of the new Bradley Central High School fine arts facility occurred in 2010.
“This is something we’re very excited about. The new fine arts facility is so much more than a 600-seat auditorium. It’s a real theater with sound and lighting. It will allow students to learn theater arts, theater production and will include a choral room and band room,” said McDaniel.
The additional choral and band classrooms in the fine arts facility will free up about 300 seats currently used for these classes in the school.
“This has marked a very important year for Bradley County Schools. I just can’t say how proud I am to have the wonderful people who work for Bradley County Schools. That’s what makes the school system great,” said McDaniel.