10/26/08 — Engineering school gets picked to split $515,000 grant

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Engineering school gets picked to split $515,000 grant

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 26, 2008 2:00 AM

Wayne School of Engineering has been named one of 10 "innovative high schools" across the state that will split a half-million dollar grant to boost their academic programs and to prepare students for college and careers.

The $515,000 grant from Glaxo-SmithKline will subsidize the N.C. New Schools Project, a non-profit organization promoting the high school initiatives, through 2010-11. It follows an earlier $300,000 gift from GlaxoSmithKline in 2005.

In its second year, Wayne School of Engineering is housed at Goldsboro High School.

All 10 schools were created at campuses identified by the state's Department of Public Instruction for "turnaround" assistance due to low student performance. The General Assembly provided initial grants to the schools to focus on science, technology, engineering and math, while local districts funded the schools' openings.

The grant is a perfect fit for Wayne County Public Schools' latest efforts to prepare high schools for the competitive workforce and secondary education, said Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools.

"GlaxoSmithKline is making a sound investment in the future," he said.

The 10 STEM schools are already showing promising early results.

Five of the 10 schools last year met or exceeded targets for academic gains set for their school by the state, which has not yet released the percentage of students proficient on the end-of-course tests for the 2007-08 school year.

Wayne School of Engineering had just one student drop out last year, putting its dropout rate at 1.2 percent. The rate for all 10 STEM schools last year was 2 percent.

Attendance at the School of Engineering was also higher than its counterparts, with 96 percent, compared with an average attendance rate of 92 percent.

New Schools Project was established in 2003 by the governor's office, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is currently working with the 10 innovative schools and 92 others in the state to transform teaching and learning in smaller, more focused and personalized settings.