PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) -- Teachers at two Pine Bluff schools vote against applying for a federal grant, although, the teachers association says it would have meant $6 million for the high school and another $6 million for Oak Park Elementary School.
The School Improvement Grant under President Barack Obama is designed to turn around low-achieving schools. Yet, with any federal grant there are rules and stipulations. That's part of the reason we're told why high school teachers voted 45 to 6 against federal money.
As president of the Pine Bluff Education Association, Ryan Roberts says his school district needs improvement.
"We need leadership that is working with staff and not against the staff. We need to improve instruction," says Roberts.
A few weeks ago, Roberts and a majority of his fellow teachers at the high school voted against applying for the federal School Improvement Grant.
"When the presentation was made, we were given positives and not the negatives," says Roberts.
Roberts says he believes the sticking point was this grant could have added 300 hours of instruction, meaning longer school days and school year.
"A lot of our students leave to go to surrounding school districts where they don't have these requirements," says Roberts.
There are four models administrators could choose under the grant. The Turnaround Model replaces the principal, rehires no more than half the teachers and extends learning time. The Restart Model converts it to a charter school or education management organization. The third is School Closure. The fourth is the Transformation Model, which replaces the principal, reforms the curriculum and extends learning time.
Roberts says it's possible teachers might have approved the application process if there had proper planning.
"It's like buying a car on day one of shopping. You want to see all options and make an informed decision," says Roberts.
Roberts says Oak Park Elementary teachers also voted against applying for the grant. THV called the superintendent's office to try to get her comments and left a message, but our calls were not returned. Several board members say this grant application never came up for the board to vote on. Therefore, board members Harold Jackson, Freddie Johnson, and Donna Barnes say they could not comment.
THV's Pam Baccam will have more on this story on "Today's THV at 6:00" and todaysthv.com.