Nov 4, 2010 7:22 PM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo magnet schools attracting success

A big turnaround for a pair of schools in Pueblo. Two years ago, Fountain Elementary and Corwin Middle Schools were on the brink of failure, but today test scores are up and there's even a waiting list. An issue now, may be funding.

"Their achievement was low for several years, the district needed to do something to turn around these schools," said Charlotte Martinez, Pueblo City Schools IB Coordinator for Magnet Schools.

In 2008, Pueblo City Schools transformed Fountain Elementary, Corwin Middle and East High into magnet schools--raising the bar to an international level. "We have abilities to connect with schools from all over the world, and we use standards that those same schools are using," said Martinez.

The school district got a $7 million federal grant to run the program for three years. During the first two years, Martinez says big gains have been made. "(Corwin) has probably gone from scoring in the 50th percentile to scoring in the 70s and 80s and in some cases the 90s," said Martinez.

Also, enrollment at Corwin and Fountain is now at capacity. "Not only are we doing a great job with scoring well in areas, but we're doing that with a large number of kids and I think that's significant," said Martinez.

"Every student gets to try here, and we're still achieving at very high levels, we don't screen kids out," said Julie Shue, Corwin principal.

Shue adds, they're attracting more students from outside the district. "They had done some preliminary estimates and thought that the magnet schools had generated about an additional million dollars in added revenue by bringing students in who had come from other places," said Shue.

Grant funding for the magnet schools runs out at the end of this school year. Pueblo City Schools would have to pay some additional funding to keep the programs running, which they anticipate doing. "It's not something anyone is forgetting about. Everyone is looking at how do we sustain this program and what we've started," said Martinez.

Pueblo City Schools is still trying to figure out how much money it would take to keep the magnet schools operating. Since they're attracting new students, the district expects the programs will continue.

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