Earlier this month, Robinson Elementary School was awarded the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant by the state board of education.
The award is a three-year grant beginning during the 2009-10 school year, which utilizes federal funds to establish a community learning center to be focused on academic instruction, enrichment activities and community-related support for at-risk students and their families.
“This money comes to us at a good time,” said Keith Porter, superintendent of Dawson County schools. “Providing assistance to our at-risk students was a concern due to the current economic state, and now this money will allow us to close the academic gap of our at-risk students with their peers.”
During the 2009-10 school year, the proposed budget is $204,000, while the three year period is expected to bring $582,000 to Dawson County schools.
The Dawson County 21st Century Community Learning Center will serve students at Robinson Elementary School in a before and after-school setting.
“Although the award is limited to Robinson, Dawson County schools anticipates expansion of the grant to include additional schools in the future,” Porter said.
The program is expected to raise academic achievement for at-risk students by providing small group interventions and one-on-one support. Instructional materials and resources are included as part of the grant to provide interventions for reading and math.
Families of students being served will be provided with opportunities for literacy and related educational development through community involvement and parent-related events.
Planned to begin Aug. 24 and run through May 14, 2010, the program will be held from 7:30-8 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 3-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
In order to qualify for the grant, Porter said that the school had to show a minimum of 40 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunches in its October enrollment report. He added that Robinson currently has 14.1 percent of students with a disability, and that the school also has the highest poverty rate among its students.
Porter said he began working with Pioneer RESA, a regional board of educational leaders comprised of a 14 county district, in the spring to write the grant and submit a request for Robinson to be approved.
“We are one of three school systems in the pioneer region to be awarded this grant,” Porter said. “Banks and Rabun counties were the only other two that will receive funds in the same fashion that we will here.”
Porter said the program’s focus will be concentrated on reading and math skills through applied curriculum that involves hand on activities and technology components that will offer curriculum in a different way and approach learning from another angle.
Because the grant funds will allow for paid positions, Porter also said it will allow the school system to be able to purchase programs that will help target student’s strengths and weaknesses to better determine where each student needs additional assistance.
“We will be able to provide more individual attention with low student to teacher ratios,” he said. “We are very excited to have this money that will give us the ability to help our students who are struggling, whatever the reason may be.”