Tilton School Receives Second Half of ‘Turnaround’ Grant

Haverhill’s Tilton School Friday received the second installment of a state $900,000 “turnaround” grant.

As WHAV reported a year ago, the grant—aimed at improving underperforming schools—aims to change school climate and culture and elevate test scores at the Level Three school through leadership, shared responsibility and professional collaboration; intentional practices for improving instruction; and student-specific supports and instruction.

“I’m thrilled that our state education officials and the governor’s office have recognized the hard work and successes by teachers, administrators and especially students at Tilton,” said Mayor James J. Fiorentini. He pointed to Superintendent James F. Scully and Assistant Superintendent Jared Fulgoni for implementing the plan.

The second installment is $404,000. Tilton, with about 550 children in grades one through four, has been a Level 3 school for the past several years and teachers and administrators have been working together with the goal of moving up to the highest Level 1.

Scully, who is retiring this month, used the occasion to take certain critical members of the School Committee to task. “Despite the negative comments of some on the School Committee, we are succeeding at all levels in the schools.”

State education officials also praised the superintendent. “We commend your team for implementing numerous turnaround strategies thus far, and we encourage the school to reflect on the feedback identified by the grant renewal review team.”

Tilton Principal Bonnie Antkowiak said the school most recently used the money to provide a writing coach, specialized teachers, teaching assistants for students with special needs and free after-school learning opportunities in reading and math. Money was also used to provide busing for every student.

“One of our biggest challenges to improving student academic performance was poor attendance and tardiness,” she said, adding “students can’t learn if they’re not here.” She said attendance and tardiness have dramatically improved since the school started implementing its turnaround plan a year ago.