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Grant aids school program
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Dawson County and Riverview middle schools are starting after-school tutoring programs for qualified students this week.

Through funds provided by The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Grant, Dawson County Schools have been able to offer specialized services to children classified as "homeless," which is defined as any student without a stable residence.

The children that qualify are determined by the student residency form filled out by their guardian upon enrollment. Questions on the form indicate to administration officials whether students qualify for the countywide program.

According to program assistant Beverly Maloney, 135 students are designated across the county for the program.

The past two years the county has been receiving funds, however, this year is the system's first time applying it toward the middle school after-school programs. Before it had been applied to middle school Saturday programs for attendance makeup days.

The $46,000 grant allotment for this year allows for certified instructors to offer individual instruction to students struggling to meet academic standards.

Students will receive "individual remediation on targeted Georgia Public School Standards as identified on benchmark assessments," according to the program's outlines.

The after-school program instructors had to go through a selection process involving final approval from the Dawson County Board of Education.

According to Dawson County Middle School Principal Dr. Mark Merges, the selection process will be redone each year the program is offered.

"We are just in the beginning stages to talk about what our goals are," Maloney said. "This after-school program is going to be a big topic because we have to decide if we want to continue it or start earlier next year. Then, in response there is the question whether we will need more funds."

Gracie Graves, Dawson County schools social worker, believes the program could be beneficial for the students who dedicate themselves to their studies.

"These after-school programs are us seeking to fill gaps some of these students may have," she said. "We foresee it being pretty successful."

To receive the funds continually throughout the three years of the grant officials have to "show data that they have helped serve these students and helped enrich their education," Merges said.

"I think the bottom line on this is that it's a great program. Luckily we have the grant that allows us to offer this to students. If we didn't have the grant we couldn't do it," he said.