June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Schools seek $12.4M in grants

MEDINA — Five of Medina County’s seven school districts have applied for almost $12.4 million in new Straight A Fund grants available through the Ohio Department of Education.

Many of the grant applications involve collaborations amongst school districts to receive the competitive funding.

For example, Medina Schools applied for a grant called “Distance Learning Collaborative for Increased Student Learning Opportunities” in collaboration with Cloverleaf and Buckeye school districts.

The districts are asking for $951,764 to allow students to take coursework offered in each of the three districts instead of being limited to only the coursework offered in their home schools.

“We think that this would be a unique opportunity for our students and give us the ability to share students,” Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said. “The idea about it is that we won’t be limited by the walls of the schoolhouse.”

Cloverleaf also collaborated with Medina to seek $177,437 to contract with an independent internal auditor who will “identify inefficiencies, improve processes, implement best practices, and recommend additional opportunities to enhance our existing shared services agreement resulting in spending reductions for both districts.”

The two school districts already share a treasurer.

Together, Medina, Wadsworth and Buckeye schools requested $250,069.03 “to develop and implement a research-based program to improve the performance of adolescent at-risk and students with disabilities in the area of mathematics.”

The money will pay for curriculum materials and professional development.

On its own, Medina is asking for $4,999,917 to improve technology and continue to transition to a “project-based learning” model. The district also is requesting $43,289 for Evolve Academy, to provide special education high school students who are at risk of not graduating, an alternative to the traditional school environment.

Kris Quallich, director of educational services for Medina Schools, said the grant requests will allow the district to provide students with opportunities beyond what it is asking for in next week’s five-year, 5.9-mill levy.

“It’s just trying to get back some of the funding the state’s taken away,” she said.

Buckeye and Cloverleaf collaborated in a request for $183,740 to use “Lean enterprise concepts and tools, which have been proven effective in industry and health care, to reduce the costs of support services while improving quality.”

Cloverleaf also is seeking $823,924 to “adopt an environmentally friendly, sustainable teaching and operational philosophy that will partner the building operations, transportation, and food service departments in a unique way that will positively impact our student body and the local community.”

The money saved would allow the district to fund a coach in science, technology, engineering and math fields to be shared by all grade levels, according to a summary of the grant application.

Wadsworth Schools wants $373,208 for a “Partners in Literacy” program that would provide professional development for more than 800 teachers across four districts.

Black River Schools is asking for $4.5 million to “transform a 53-year-old high school building into a 21st Century learning environment capable of preparing students for college and careers.”

The goal of the project is to enhance education for students and attract home-schooled students, virtual students and open-enrolled students.

The $250 million Straight A fund was created in the new state budget signed this summer by Gov. John Kasich. The state announced Monday that it had received 570 applications requesting nearly $868 million. The fund will hand out $100 million in fiscal year 2014 and $150 million in fiscal year 2015, and the program promotes innovative local ideas and programs to help transform and modernize Ohio’s education system.

The grant applications were due last Friday and the grant awards will be announced Dec. 17.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.