Students at eight schools in the Tri-Cities performed poorly enough to qualify for special federal grants, state school officials announced Thursday.
The two local districts involved may opt to ignore the free money, however, because they would have to commit to drastic measures to qualify for the grants.
Kennewick High School and seven schools in Pasco made the list published by the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction.
If they submit grant applications outlining reform plans by March 4, they could receive anywhere between $50,000 and $2 million annually for the next three years.
However, their applications must include plans that follow one of three models:
-- Close the school and send its students to better-performing campuses.
-- Replace the principal and half of the teachers and give the new principal plenty of authority to change how kids are taught.
-- Replace the principal and put far-reaching reforms into place, including longer school days or a longer school year.
The seven Pasco schools on the list are Stevens Middle School, Ellen Ochoa Middle School, and Robert Frost, Longfellow, Emerson, Rowena Chess and Virgie Robinson Elementary Schools.
The Pasco schools were picked because they were among the lowest-achieving 5 percent of schools in the state, based on standardized test scores in reading and math, according to OSPI.
Kennewick High made the list because of persistently low graduation rates over the past three years.
Kennewick and Pasco district officials could not be reached Thursday for comment on the listings.
Pasco was eligible for the grants last year and applied, but was not chosen for a grant.
This year, 50 schools statewide are on the list. They are competing for $7.3 million in federal money.
The money is part of Title I assistance, which the federal Department of Education offers to schools and districts with high percentages of students from poor households.
If districts choose not to apply and do not improve their students' test results in the following school year, they will then be required to adopt one of the three reform plans.
Grant winners will be notified March 31 and the reforms are put in place during the summer.
* Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org