AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education announced Thursday that Gov. James B Longley elementary school in Lewiston and two other schools are the first three to get final approved for improvement grants.

Longley has been awarded $1.99 million to be spent in three years.

Riverton Elementary School in Portland has been awarded $3,38 million, and and Sumner High School in Sullivan, $1.73 million, according to the Maine Department of Education.

“We’re very excited,” Longley Principal Linda St. Andre said Thursday. “We’ve been working very diligently to prepare for this. We’re ready to get up and running. There’s been lots of positive changes already. We’re looking forward to a successful year. We’re thrilled with this support.”

The money came with a catch: The principals of the schools had to be replaced, and in Longley’s case half of the teachers. St. Andre, who was the principal at Lewiston’s Fairview Elementary, was named the Longley principal in June.

St. Andre told the Lewiston School Committee in July that when Longley opens Aug. 30 it will have a new parent center; a Somali interpreter who will help launch a new parent-teacher organization; an on-site math coach and reading specialist; a school-based health center; professional development for teachers from the University of Maine experts; and early release for students every Wednesday to give teachers time for professional development.

Longley was cited as one of 10 schools in Maine needing improvement after years of persistent low student test scores. Longley is a school that historically has the city’s poorest students. All seven schools receiving school improvement grants had consistent low test scores, and will be required to incorporate student achievement data in teacher evaluations.

The Department of Education is working with a fourth school, Deer Isle-Stonington High School, as it completes its grant application. Three other schools, Livermore Falls High School, Lake Region High School in Naples and Carrabec High School in North Anson are expected to be awarded school improvement grants, the Department of Education said.

Three schools that were eligible for school improvement grants chose not to apply.

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