Lowell Gets $365K Grant for English Language Learners

LOWELL — As part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Gateway Cities Education Agenda, the Lowell Public Schools were awarded $365,000 in grant funding last week that will directly benefit students.

Lowell was awarded a $325,000 English Language Learners Enrichment Academies grant that will be used to fund a summer ELL academy aimed at providing additional support to ELL students in grades 5-12.

Four hundred ELL students will participate in the Summer English Learning Academy five days a week, six hours a day for four weeks this summer. The Lowell Public Schools serve 4,195 ELL students.

“I am very appreciative for the work of staff that secured the grant funding that will provide direct services to children,” said Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco, who began her education career as an ELL teacher. “The ELL grant is designed to provide direct summer support to ELL students. There will be a full day summer school offering to students that will provide experiential learning and a variety of academic support.

“The Summer English Learning Academy will be implemented alongside the existing LPS’ summer program and will utilize and share facilities, custodial staff and utilities, and transportation” she added. “The districts’ goals are to leverage the resources of all the programs to reduce duplication of services and to maximize the services and funding for students.”

In addition to the ELL grant, the LPS was also awarded a $40,000 Career Academies Planning grant, which will be used to redesign the district’s alternative high school program, resulting in the creation of a 4-year Career Academy High School targeting the students most at-risk of dropping out of school. The academy will be created in partnership with Middlesex Community College and the Lowell Workforce Investment Board.

“The school will be based on a non-punitive culture with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as its frame work. Academics will meet all common core standards, however, be taught in a project and experiential based learning environment,” said Franco. “Students will be introduced to career exploration opportunities including job shadowing, internships and externships. The overarching goal of the Career Academy is to help struggling students engage in education in a different way, become academically successful and connect with career and college pathways after high school.”

The initial freshmen class of approximately 40 students will enter the doors on August 27, 2013.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone announced more than $3.4 million in grants to 19 urban school districts last week.

First proposed by the Gov. Patrick in November 2011, the Gateway Cities Education Agenda aims to eliminate achievement gaps that disproportionately affect students living in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, and students who are English language learners in the Commonwealth’s 24 gateway cities.

A gateway city is defined as one with a population between 35,000 and 250,000, with an average household income below the state average and an average educational attainment rate (Bachelor’s or above) below the state average.