New money for some struggling Philly schools?

In these tough school budget times, news of new funding is hard to come by.

But seven Philadelphia School District that have benefitted from U.S. Department of Labor grants for the past few years have gotten more money to keep programs going, officials recently announced.

Six of the schools — Germantown, Bartram, Overbrook, FitzSimons, University City and West Philadelphia High Schools - were awarded $2.3 million each. A seventh, Lincoln High School, will get $1.2 million. Each of the schools is a neighborhood high school, meaning there are no entrance requirements other than living in a certain area of the city.

The grants were awarded to “reduce violence and improve educational outcomes,” officials said, and will be used “to reduce violence and support educational opportunities within these schools through strategies such as anti-bullying education, peer mentoring and crisis management. Officials hope these grants will foster programs to decrease the dropout rate as well as increase student achievement and behavior.

The schools first got the grants in 2008, with the first award lasting through this August.  Bartram, West, U. City, Overbrook, Germantown and Lincoln initially got $7.4 million, and FitzSimons got $4.2 million.

Since the grants were first awarded, there have been big changes at most of the schools.  Come September, just Bartram, Lincoln and Overbrook will remain traditional district schools.  University City is already a Promise Academy - a district school with a longer school day and year, new leadership and teachers, and intensive supports officials hope will speed student achievement. FitzSimons, Germantown and West Philadelphia will become Promise Academies in the fall.