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Texas to get big bucks to help low-performing schools

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Texas is one of 10 states that will get millions of dollars from the government to help turn around low-performance schools, and districts in the Borderland are hoping to get a piece of the pie.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the Lone Star State will be awarded $46,773,565 to help low-achieving school districts throughout the state, receiving the most out of all states.
For the Borderland to get some of that money, educators said schools must classify as a focus or priority school. According to the Texas Education Association website, El Paso, Ysleta, Fabens and San Elizario Independent School Districts are on the list.  
We have one ZIP code that is one of the five poorest ZIP  codes in the United States. So we have to deal with that and having our schools help students is what I know the schools try to do, said Lucy Clarke, the president of the El Paso Federation of Teachers.
Clarke said when Borderland schools have been awarded grant money in the past there's been a change for the better.
Looking at the most current results that were online, the test scores in one area, which is reading, has gone up. Yes, slightly, but they went up, said Clarke
Clarke said there are a few reason for the positive impact, including the money being spent on encouraging parents to get involved.
Some of our campuses have training for parents to be able to do that after school, said Clarke. If the person who would be doing the after-school training if they're staying considerably after regular school hours would need to be paid for that.
Clarke said grant money also goes to funding programs for students.  It's all for one end goal: Test scores will rise, said Clarke.
While it sounds good, Clarke said districts don't want to get their hopes up.
(EPISD previously) applied for it for 27 schools, but only three were accepted into the grant program, said Clarke.
To get this grant money the borderland is competing against all Texas cities. Clarke said for now, district staff will apply and keep their fingers crossed.