County schools receive grants

Published 4:18 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Members of the Decatur County Board of Education received some good news at their monthly meeting last Thursday night, as they learned the system had recently been awarded several federal grants.

Bainbridge High School Assistant Principal Jimmy Harris, who is also serving as the system’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program director for this year, told the board that the system’s 21st Century grant request of $350,000 was recently approved. The grant provides after-school programs, as well as Saturday programs that help more than 400 students.

Harris said the grants are awarded every three years, and the system applies for two separate grants — one for its kindergarten through fourth grade students, and one for its fifth grade and older students. The grant for the older students was set to expire this school year, but the federal government approved its renewal.

Harris said no local match is required.

“These programs are not only used for remediation, but also for enrichment,” he said. “There are classes for proper nutrition, proper socialization — these are things that some kids may have gaps in learning.”

At Thursday’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield said the system’s grant application was ranked third in the state.

“Our request was very highly scored and this allows us to continue that program for another three years,” he said.

Also at the meeting, School Nutrition Director Debbie Purcell announced that West Bainbridge Elementary School had received a $29,200 “fresh fruit and vegetables” grant from the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. The grant will allow students at the school to sample fresh fruit and vegetables, throughout the coming school year, at no cost.

Purcell also announced the system provided 6,133 breakfasts and 9,201 lunches to Decatur County children, during the Seamless Summer Nutrition Program.

Other business

In other business, the board:

• Approved a resolution allowing the superintendent to increase the class-size student minimums by one to five students, in accordance with state law. Due to the budget crisis, most state school systems are being granted waivers to temporarily increase class sizes beyond the state-set maximum.

• Learned from Rayfield that total enrollment for the 2011-12 school year was down 97 students, according to early unofficial figures. He said the enrollment system-wide was 5,511 students, as of Aug. 19.

• Heard from Bainbridge High School junior Caroline New, who read her “Laws of Life” essay. She was the 10th grade winner of the Laws of Life essay-writing contest in the 2010-11 school year, and also placed fourth in the state.

• Called an executive session to discuss “personnel.” The session lasted two hours, 10 minutes, and after the board returned to regular session, it announced no action had been taken.