Union Co. superintendent finds $8 million to help fund low-performing schools

Union Co. superintendent finds $8 million to help fund low-performing schools
Mike Rode/WBTV
Mike Rode/WBTV

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The superintendent for Union County Public Schools (UCPS), Dr. Andrew Houlihan, found about $8 million to help turn six low-performing schools in the county around. Houlihan says no district department went without to fund his plan.

"We found a way within our budget to evaluate programs and strategies that were not working and we stopped doing them," Houlihan said.

Houlihan also cut positions at the central office because he thought the district was top heavy. The superintendent identified the schools that North Carolina ranks a "D" and is offering more money for tutors and social workers.

Every fourth-grader and seventh-grader will get a tutor in math, Houlihan said.

"I am expecting a big return on our investment," the superintendent said. "Even in the first year, probably when we get to the spring, we will report out to our board and to the public how we are doing."

The schools that will get the extra money are Benton Heights, East, Walter Bickett, Marshville Elementary Schools and East Union and Monroe middle schools. East Union Middle School will get about $600,000 for the 2017-2018 school year.

East Union's principal, Terrence Sanders, is excited he will get the extra money to help his students succeed and plans to hire 15 tutors.

"This will allow the tutor to come into the classroom to support students on the spot in the classroom, and also pull them out and give them specialized small group instruction," Sanders said.

The money will also be used to hire a social worker and a mental health therapist for the middle school. The school counselor says that extra resource can make a difference which can equate to academic achievement.

"If you aren't in your best mental state, how can you be expected to learn math and learn English or learn anything when you are not all the way there mentally?" Christopher Eaton, who is the counselor for East Union Middle School, asked.

Houlihan says the immediate goal is to turn the "D" schools into "C" schools and he believes the extra resources will help get the job done.

"We will expect to see a bump in student achievement, and attendance and discipline," Houlihan said

Houlihan says he will check on the progress at the six schools every four-to-six weeks.

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