Sweet Springs school district gets one grant, applies for another

Friday, February 20, 2004

Sweet Springs' preschool will get new playground equipment and teaching material through a $24,500 state grant, Superintendent Boyd Jones announced Wednesday at the Board of Education meeting.

"It'd be nice if we could spend it on the preschool next year, but that's not the case," he said of the grant that must be spent this year, adding he's thankful for any extra funding.

Jones said a final decision on what to purchase has not been made, but a preliminary list includes playground equipment, wood chips for the play area, arts and crafts material, sports equipment and audio/visual materials.

In hopes of securing more funding, Donna Wright, elementary school principal for Sweet Springs, said the elementary school is applying for a $214,000 Reading First program grant. The money, if received, would fund the salary of a reading coach, buy materials for a new reading program to be used by students from kindergarten through third grade, pay for professional development of teachers to use the new program and buy library books for classrooms and the school library. Wright said the application deadline is March 1 and the school should know in April if it will receive the grant. She said about 256 schools in Missouri were eligible for a portion of the $15 million available and estimated Sweet Springs' chance of receiving a grant at about 25 percent.

To be eligible, more than 30 percent of students in the district had to be in the lowest two categories for reading comprehension on standardized tests, the area poverty level had to be greater than 15 percent and the school must ask for at least $100,000, Wright said. The grant would not require any matching funds and would offer less funding during a second and third year, she said.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Sweet Springs Board of Education set three makeup days within the school year. An in-service day on Monday, March 8, will now be a regular day of classes and two days of the school's scheduled spring break, Thursday, April 8, and Tuesday, April 13, will now be school days. Jones said 32 teachers voted in favor of losing part of their spring break and 10 teachers were opposed. He said the next most likely makeup day would be Monday, April 12, and from there, Sweet Springs students would tack on days to the end of the school year, starting Monday, May 17. "Hopefully, that will not come into play," Jones said.

Also at the meeting, the school board approved:

* extending a two-year contract for Wright and high school Principal Rex Roberts;

* the resignation of first grade teacher Ann Krause at the end of her 25th year with the school district;

* the resignation of Parents As Teachers coordinator Betty Edwards effective July 1;

* extending the designation of Saline County Career Center as the district's vocational school, which will give the center federal funding;

* allowing Travis Reid to substitute for high school physical education teacher Dennis Droege, who died Feb. 8; and

* approved a Missouri School Improvement Program waiver for the 2005-2006 school year.

Contact Jenny Bryers at

marshallag@socket.net

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