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Yuma School District 1 lauds grant
The Yuma Elementary School District 1 governing board on Monday celebrated an Operation Brainstorm grant for $1.2 million that was recently awarded to the district by the Department of Defense (DoD) Education Agency.
The intent of the competitive three-year grant is to allow for schools to more effectively aid students from military families and also to increase math and science achievement. Also partners for the grant are Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.
“Right now the DoD is really interested in science, technology, engineering and math because we see the exodus and we see the rates at which students are getting degrees in those kinds of fields,” said YPG Commander Col. Reed Young. “And as I sit at YPG and look at our work force, knowing that we need premier scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians, I become concerned about what the future population is going to be and how we're going to fill that.
“A program like this does wonderful things to allow us to be able to achieve those goals in the future and finding that work force that's going to be out at YPG and MCAS and amongst the rest of the research, development, test and evaluation organizations across the community.”
The grant funding will support military dependent students at seven District 1 campuses: Castle Dome Middle School, Sunrise Elementary School, Ron Watson Middle School, Rolle Elementary School, Price Elementary School, Palmcroft Elementary School and Desert Mesa Elementary School.
“For a school to be eligible, you had to have more than 15 percent of your student body who are dependents of active military,” said Duane Sheppard, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
Through the grant, teachers will receive extensive professional development in areas of math and science as well as on technology that is instituted through the grant. Schools will also receive a set of iPads, wireless microscopes and document cameras to be shared at each grade level within the school.
At the middle school level, the grant will include funds to support the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, allowing students to take and receive tutoring in advanced math and science classes.
Two full-time counselors have also been hired through the grant to assist with student needs regarding deployment, reintegration, transition and wartime stress issues. School staff at campuses supported by the grant will also receive professional development regarding these issues.
Sheppard said the counselors will be putting together parent nights to work with families to make sure students' needs are being met on campus.
When the grant expires, he added, the district can continue to apply for additional funding.
Later during Monday's meeting, chief financial officer Kerry Jones reported that on the 10th day of enrollment, compared with last year, the district is down 132 students.
Also, the governing board approved a performance-based pay plan for the superintendent, based on the district's rank by the Arizona Department of Education. The contract states that the superintendent will receive $10,000 if the district receives an A grade, $5,000 for a B or no funds for the district grade of a C.
The board also approved Lurinda Ward as director of curriculum and learning services.