TEA awards $350,000 to local schools
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 15, 2006 - Five Hopkins County schools will benefit from the $350,000 in Texas Education Agency grants for literacy centers, staff development in mathematics, and a reading curriculum development and cooperative program, Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton announced Tuesday.

Sherry Garrard, director of SSISD grants, was notified Thursday that Bowie and Austin elementary schools will each receive a $50,000 Investment Capital Fund Grant, while Early Childhood Learning Center was awarded a collective $250,000 Texas Early Education Model grant that will be shared with Como-Pickton and Cumby school districts.

ECLC will receive $197,368, while $39,574 will go to Como-Pickton and $13,158 to Cumby.

"Austin's grant will be used for literacy centers, and the Bowie grant will be used for literacy centers and math staff development," SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton noted.

The superintendent said the ECLC grant will be used to "improve school readiness levels," provide for professional development, and for "anticipation in curriculum training."

Austin will use the grant funds to implement the "Four Blocks Literacy Framework" at all four grade levels, incorporating a literacy center into the classroom setting. A before-school intervention program will also be offered to help bridge the gap in existing reading levels. Austin instructors will be working with "literacy guru" Relda Beall to prepare for the program, according to Garrard.

Bowie Elementary third and fourth grade teachers will also be working with Relda Beall on literacy efforts, while first and second grade teachers at the school work with Marcy Cook on mathematics to make "abstract concepts more understandable."

An after-school program will be offered to at-risk students at Bowie Elementary for enhanced achievement. Inova software will be used to help break down data for better comprehension of individual needs.

Efforts will be made at both Bowie and Austin to involve parents and community leaders in training and accountability standards, according to Garrard.

The $50,000 grants period begins March 31, 2007, and concludes Aug. 31, 2008.

The ECLC grant is a collaborative effort between SSISD, Como-Pickton CISD and Cumby ISD to improve reading levels.

The learning process of children in the three districts will be monitored and efforts will be made to "expand integration with child care providers to better serve children."

Garrard credits the hard work and diligence of staff members in each of the school districs who "went the extra mile" in securing the three grants.

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