Thursday, August 13, 2009
Stimulus funds help school district efforts
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall County School District will get a big boost from three shots of stimulus package funds.
Superintendent of education Don Randolph said the district is trying to rebound from cuts in state and federal money.
“By utilizing ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) money, we will continue our endeavors to raise our students’ achievement levels,” he said.
First, the district has applied for and been awarded $2.1 million for construction of new classrooms.
“A $3 million note has been issued by the school district to finance these bonds,” Randolph said. “These bonds are interest free. No interest will be paid by the school district, and there will be a federal tax break for institutions that finance these bonds.”
He said final plans for the classrooms will be announced soon.
“The district has not yet determined where the new construction will be,” Randolph said.
A second influx of stimulus money will contribute greatly to the Title I program and its educational efforts.
Jerry Moore, instructional services director, said funds will be used in the areas of dropout prevention, computer software for those students with reading deficiencies, and the AR (Accelerated Reader) program.
“We will get $100,000 between our eight schools for AR books,” Moore said. “That will be an enormous upgrade to our libraries.”
The dropout prevention plan will include a public awareness campaign.
Randolph said the addition of extracurricular activities at the schools – like football and bands – are also a part of dropout prevention efforts.
“We want our students to be involved and participate in the entire educational process,” he said. “We want to keep their interests.”
Another great tool in tackling the dropout problem is the installation of an automatic instant messaging system. Randolph said it will provide information throughout the district to parents of Marshall County students.
“Beginning with the absentee list, it will call parents immediately, inquiring why that student is not in school,” he said.
The system will be also used for notification of school activities, warnings of bad weather, arrival times from sports trips and information concerning students’ progress reports.
A third round of stimulus money will go specifically to children with disabilities. It will be used for buses to transport these students to and from school, plus computers and reading lab material.
Randolph said the Marshall County School District will continue to apply for all available funds through the ARRA.
“The Recovery Act requires us to audit and track our progress,” he said. “The data will be recorded and be used to report to the federal government the progress we’re making in the achievement levels of our students. Accountability is a must. Every student should show progress.”
Marshall County students returned to classes last Thursday. Enrollment, as of Monday, was approximately 3,500.
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