Schools lose grants, no cuts planned

Published 3:37 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

Four area schools lost their funding for after-school tutorials and enrichment programs.

McKenzie School, Georgiana School, Greenville Middle School and W.O. Parmer Elementary School reapplied for 21st Century grants, but were denied funding.

Both Greenville High School and Greenville Elementary School will still receive a 21st Century grant for two more years.

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In the past, Georgiana and McKenzie shared a grant that was worth $125,000 a year. Both GMS and W.O. Parmer each received grants worth $100,000 a year. The grants were awarded for a three-year term.

“We’ve had this grant for a number of years,” said Superintendent Amy Bryan. “We have had it renewed in the past, which I think played a role in diminishing our chances to receive the grant again. It can be hard to come up with new and exciting things that make them want to continue to give us the grant when there are so many schools applying for the funding.”

In 2010, the school system as a whole received $100,000. In 2011, it received $50,000.

A year later, GMS, W.O. Parmer and Georgiana and McKenzie received a combined $325,000. That remained unchanged until 2014 when GES and GHS each received grants bringing the total to $525,000.

Bryan, who was the Federal Programs Coordinator for the school system before being named superintendent in March, said that she did not feel that allowing staff members at the school to prepare the grant applications rather than having Rheta McClain, who is now responsible for federal programs and grant programs, write the application was the reason the schools failed to receive the grant.

“(In the past) I wrote them always as it was a program I was responsible for,” Bryan said. “Rheta, being new to this, knew the schools would know more about their programs. Also, they had my old grants to go by and even a local grant writer helping as well. These are individual school grants and not system grants, so it is perfectly logical for schools to write their own. Others around the state do.”

The 21st Century grant program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs.

Bryan said that even without the grant funding, the schools will continue to offer the programs that were originally created with the money received from the grant.

“The good news is that we have saved money each year,” Bryan said. “Every student that takes part in the program pays $10 a week in tuition, and we’ve been able to set that money aside. We’ll be able to use that money to continue the programs and I believe we’ll be able to provide seamless service.”

Bryan said she is concerned about the summer programs, but feels that the system will be able to continue the programs, although it could mean an increase in the tuition for those programs.

The schools will learn in the spring if they are eligible to reapply for the grant.

If the schools’ requests are approved the grant money would become available on Oct. 1.