Wednesday, February 25, 2015

District pursues grant monies

J-E Editor
Much of the talk at Monday night’s School Board meeting was about the availability of grant opportunities. Something that District Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough is very passionate about.

“You don’t have to write grants,” Dr. Yarbrough told the board. “But I want Webster County Schools to be in the game. I want Webster County students to be a part of grant opportunities that make an impact. As long as I am superintendent, we will have our head around opportunities that will help us grow.”
Two Providence Elementary teachers were named recipients of Reflex Math Educators Grant. Rachel Killough and Carla Peyton will receive one year access to Reflex, a math fluency program that continuously monitors each student’s performance to create the optimal experience for every child. The program is valued at approximately $1,600.
Providence Elementary was also the recipient of a Born Learning Academy grant. The United Way Born Learning Academy, driven by Toyota is an innovative program that consists of six workshop sessions that provide parents with the tools to help their children succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
Parents of young children (prenatal to five years old) are engaged in hands-on activities and discussion about what it means to be ready for kindergarten and offered strategies they can use at home to maximize their child’s early learning and development.
Dr. Yarbrough also told the board that district officials were in the process of writing a grant proposal for the 21st Century Communities Learning Center Grant.  This grant would consist of $675,000 spread out over a five year period, and would provide the district with the opportunity to introduce programs in the fields of aerospace, robotics and coding, among others that are not currently available in Webster County. Each program would be offered outside of regular school hours, either in the mornings or afternoons.
“It’s an absolute culture change when you can build in so much support and enrichment opportunity,” she said.
The program is also aimed at creating parental engagement in student learning.
“We might not get it, but we are optimistic,” Yarbrough explained. “I think this goes hand in glove with student retention and recovery. If we can get a student who might not know about robotics but really gets into building things into this program, we can get them to come to school. That’s when you start chipping away at them.”
Yarbrough also told the board that the district had received it’s $10,000 bonus from the state for adopting Senate Bill 97, which raised the drop out age from 16 to 18. That money is being used to acquire a program called Plato, which is a credit recovery program that can be used for students at the alternative center. The hope is allowing them to recover lost credits will allow the district to keep those students in school.
“We’re also working on a work-based credit programs for students who have had to drop out for other reasons,” she said. “If we can offer a program that will offer work place credits and recovery, our chance of getting some of those kids back is good. That’s our greatest get back some of those kids who have already made the decision to drop out.”
“These are the types of things that are going to elevate Webster County to the level where we want to be,” board chairman Jeff Pettit said. “It feels like we are going on offense. We are no longer playing defense in Webster County.”
It was also announced on Monday that the district would be acquiring a computer program called Aesop. This automated substitute placement and absence management system allows teachers and substitutes to post and search openings within the district in a much shorter time than ever before. A teacher who is going to be off can post in the program, and that position will be immediately be viewable to approved substitutes, who can immediately apply.

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