Learning opportunities will soon increase for students at Plain City Elementary School thanks to more than $1 million in new federal grant money.
Misty Swanger, curriculum director at Jonathan Alder Local Schools, announced Monday the district received a 21st Century Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand both the school day and year for about 150 students, beginning Oct. 1.
21st Century Grants support the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, according to the department’s website.
Under terms of Alder’s grant, Plain City Elementary will receive $357,000 annually for the next three years to hire teachers, aides and coordinators; buy iPads, Chromebooks and art supplies; conduct evening programs for parents; and send staff to professional development courses.
Swanger said programs will target struggling and underprivileged students. Evidence of success will come with higher test scores and fewer students in need of help with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
“We will focus on closing the gap,” Swanger said.
Application for a similar grant at Monroe Elementary School in Plumwood was not funded. However, the district will re-apply in the future, Swanger said.
New programs at Plain City Elementary to stretch the school year will include a K-Club for kindergarten students and a “summer camp” for all grades.
Currently, kindergarten students attend full-day classes two to three days a week. K-Club students will also go to school on “off days.”
A four-week summer program will will teach literacy and math and include additional classes in computer skills, typing and the arts.
Evening programs will draw families into school activities and provide additional chances for students and parents to learn together, Swanger said.
An after-school 21st Century Club will add to the learning day. Club members will receive help with reading and math homework, but will also attend classes in dance and the arts.
Club activities will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday from October to April.
Swanger said grant funds will cover transportation costs, including vouchers for parent transportation. However, food costs are not covered. Donations and the Plain City Elementary PTO will provide food for club activities.
In other meeting business on Monday, Alder school board members:
• Approved a trip to the 2015 Wendy’s Classic tournament for the high school softball team. Dates for the tournament are April 18-19.
• Approved bus routes for the upcoming school year.
• Appointed Christine Blacka as delegate to the Ohio School Board Association and Capital Conference. Mary Jo Boyd will serve as alternate.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1616 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.