09/08/04 — Schools win grant to help students

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Schools win grant to help students

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on September 8, 2004 2:03 PM

Three Wayne County middle schools will split a $1.2 million grant for programs designed to help children at risk of failure.

The program not only focuses on improving academics but helping children in other areas, such as physical fitness and behavior. It also strives to get parents more involved in their children's education.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant will establish a "Building Better Teens" after-school program at Goldsboro, Dillard and Brogden middle schools.

They all are Title I schools, which receive federal money because many of the students receive subsidized lunches. The schools have also scored low on the end-of-grade test compared to other schools.

In the grant package, statistics showed that students in the three schools were below the district and state level in their test scores during the 2000, 2001 and 2002 school years.

Students being suspended at the schools is still an issue, and data have shown that the average attendance at Goldsboro and Dillard middle is the lowest of all middle schools in the county.

The "Building Better Teens" program is a collaborative effort of Wayne County public schools, the Boys and Girls Club, Wayne County 4-H, Family YMCA, Communities in Schools, Rebuilding Broken Places, Wayne Uplift Resource Association, Goldsboro Housing Authority and the city of Goldsboro.

Howard Scott, director of the Wayne County Cooperative Extension, said they wrote the grant application in May and found out in early August that the county would be receiving the money over a four-year period. Some paperwork still needs to be completed and then it will be officially awarded, he said.

The program's mission is to improve academic performance; reduce the number of unsupervised students when school is out; improve attitude and behavior; provide enrichment activities; and increase the involvement of parents in the education of their child, said Dr. Ruby A. Bell, director of middle grades.

The program will be conducted five days a week after school at each school and will include tutoring, homework assistance, enrichment classes, a mentor and youth leadership program, sports and fitness program and community service.

The academic component will have a special emphasis on testing, and the enrichment component will deal with arts, drama, life skills development, nutrition, cooking. Transportation will be provided for the children from the program back home.

It will also has an adult component, which may include computer classes, money management workshops and successful parenting, said Scott.

An advisory committee consisting of the agencies, site directors and parents will assist in implementing and monitoring of the program.

The plan is for the program to start in October, said Scott.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs is a component of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. Congress appropriated $993.5 million for after-school programs in fiscal year 2003.