Fifth Ward seeking additional federal dollars

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 3, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Officials with the state Department of Education are busy finalizing the documents that are part of Louisiana’s application for a portion of the more than $4 billion dollars the federal government will award as part of the “Race To the Top” program. Dollar amounts are expected to be announced in April, and one St. John Parish school that will be monitoring the proceedings especially closely is Fifth Ward Elementary School in Reserve.

That’s because Fifth Ward has also applied for additional funding as part of the High Performance Schools Initiative. For a school to be eligible to take part in this specialized section of the Race To the Top program, it must have implemented one of the required intervention models within the last two years. According to Superintendent Courtney Millet, this is something that has happened and continues to happen at Fifth Ward.

Fifth Ward Principal Kendria Spears recently presented the school board with a slide show detailing the reforms taking place at the school.

Schoolwide, best practices have been implemented for all grade levels in curriculum and instruction. These include the use of the Scott Foresman/Holt Reading Series, the introduction of accelerated reading and math classes and the use of the Black Board Configuration to focus students on the day’s tasks and goals.

Additionally, the school has made great strides in technology integration. Besides boasting two computer labs, each classroom holds at least four computers. Fifth Ward was also one of the first schools in the district to have Promethean Interactive Boards in all its classrooms.

The faculty at Fifth Ward further reflects the changes being made there. The school has on staff a Response to Intervention team as well as a certified master teacher.

As a result of the modifications being made to the learning environment at Fifth Ward, the school saw a 6-percent increase from 2008 to 2009 in its school performance score, which jumped from 69 to 75. The school is aiming to increase that score by at least 10 more points this year.

St. John the Baptist is one of 28 districts in the state that have agreed to take part in the Race To the Top initiative.