09/20/11 — Funding sought for coach at Southern Wayne High School

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Funding sought for coach at Southern Wayne High School

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 20, 2011 1:46 PM

The second graduation coach position, at Southern Wayne High School, will continue, at least for this semester, said Sudie Davis, executive director of Communities in Schools.

As late as last week, the situation was pretty bleak, she admits now.

"It's been the toughest funding year," she said. "This has been my most challenging year. We lost $6,000 out of a grant that the schools no longer receive. ...

"We're still like most non-profits, scrambling for funding this year. Some of the other non-profits have had this before we did. I cannot complain because we really, up until this year, have not been too touched too terribly (by the economy)."

It has been a challenge to financially retain both graduation coaches -- at Goldsboro and Southern Wayne high schools, she said. This is the third year for Barbara Wilkins at GHS and the second for Raymond Clark at SW.

The position was added to help identify students in danger of dropping out, with coaches assigned to work with them to provide essential resources that address both academic and non-academic needs.

Tutors and mentors from the community are also enlisted to support students with graduation projects and other needs, with coaches responding to additional students beyond the original list categorized as "at-risk."

The program has been abundantly successful, Mrs. Davis pointed out.

"We saw significant improvements in multiple things that we tracked, so we were very pleased," she said. "Ninety-five percent of the seniors that we worked with last year graduated. The two coaches worked with 74 seniors last year and of that, 70 graduated."

In other areas measured, Mrs. Davis said 65 percent of the students met attendance goals; 85 percent of those targeted met behavior improvement goals; 91 percent met academic achievement improvement goals; 60 percent met reduced suspension goals; and 84 percent met attitude and commitment to school improvement goals.

When the school year began in late August, Mrs. Wilkins was in place, but Clark's status was still in question. Mrs. Davis said she was anxious to secure him but unable to do so without adequate funding in place.

"We have not given up yet," she said last week. "We have not closed the door completely. We're still scrambling to make this come together."

United Way came through with a matching $15,000 challenge grant, she said, which would cover this year and the next.

"What this means is that Communities in Schools must find funding in the amount of at least $15,000 to be eligible for this funding," Mrs. Davis said. "We're working on that."

On Monday, she reported that both graduation coaches are at work at the two schools.

"We have the first half of the school year funding for both and we are frantically working to find the funding for the second half of the school year," she said. "We do have a fundraiser planned (for November) and we have found a grant funder who serves our area who likes to match challenge grants so we will be submitting grants."

Details of the upcoming fundraiser will be announced soon, she added.

Meanwhile, she is optimistic about the outcome as she continues to "pound the pavement" to ensure the future of the position remains solid.

"(GHS) has referred 20 seniors to Barbara and SW will be referring 30 seniors that Raymond will follow-up through the school year," she said. "I know that we can do it.

"Both principals were very pleased to have the resource there. We're really excited."