School Corporation receives state grant for programs

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The Indiana Department of Education has announced that the Switzerland County School Corporation is among 57 organizations throughout the state that have been awarded 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Grants.

The grants were awarded to entities that provide out-of-school time enrichment programs to Indiana students. Awards range from $75,000 to $325,000 and total nearly $10.3 million.

The Switzerland County School Corporation received a grant of $187,500.

“Students spend more time out of school than in our classrooms,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said. “That is why it is essential that we support organizations that provide enriching academic programming to Hoosier students. I am honored to recognize this important work by awarding more than $10 million in 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program grant funding to 57 high-quality out-of-school time organizations.”

“We actually went down to Austin. They’ve had one of these grants for three or four years now,” Switzerland County School Superintendent Mike Jones said. “They do an after school remediation and enrichment program. After visiting Austin, We decided that it would beneficial here, so we applied for one of the grants and received one.”

Jones said that it is a four year grant, with $187,500 coming the first year, while the grant amounts in the coming three additional years will be determined annually.

The superintendent said that the Switzerland County YMCA previously had one of these grants for its ‘AfterShock’ program; and this grant will be utilized in cooperation with the local YMCA.

“After we decided to apply, the YMCA contact us, because they were going to apply,” Jones said. “So we kind of did a partnership with them. We are the grantee, but this was built on community partnerships.”

Jones said that the grant was written with Fred Ross serving as the point person here, with the assistance from a person located in Mississippi who had assisted Austin in its grant preparation in the past.

“Basically, what were looking at doing, is that we will actually hire a program director and then of course we will utilize teachers or non-certified employees who want to work in it, but it will be an after school program that will offer remediation and enrichment,” Jones said.

The superintendent said that the grant was written for the elementary schools, but he said that they may try and expand the program down the road.

“We felt that K-6, that was where we wanted to start and catch some of the young kids and help boost the ones who needed remediation and give some help to our higher ability program to try and help and be able to offer some enrichment, also.”

Indiana’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers aim to increase access to high-quality non-school hour programming across the state for students in low performing and high-poverty schools. Centers provide a range of high-quality services to support student learning and development, including academic enrichment, tutoring and mentoring, and homework help, as well as music, arts, sports and cultural activities. They also offer literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

A total of 75 school corporations, nonprofits and community organizations applied for grants with 57 receiving funding. Selected programs will be funded for up to four years beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Continued funding is based upon annual reviews and successful program implementation.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program is an out-of-school time initiative authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“We’re excited about it,” Jones said. “This will start in the fall of 2017.”