April 18, 2014

Mostly cloudy

County schools passed over for state grant money

Medina County school officials said Tuesday they were disappointed none of their districts received funding from the state’s new Straight A grant program.

Twenty-four grants from more than 150 entities were recommended Friday for a total of $88.6 million in funding by the Straight A Fund Governing Board after a screening process, according to the Ohio Department of Education. None of the grant applications from Medina County schools made the cut.

All Medina County school districts except Brunswick submitted applications to the program and many of the applications involved collaborations between several districts.

“Obviously we were disappointed,” Wadsworth Schools Superintendent Andy Hill said. “We thought that those we sent off were good quality.”

One of Wadsworth’s grants sought $373,208 for a “Partners in Literacy” program that would have provided professional development for more than 800 teachers across four districts: Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland and Wadsworth.

Hill said Wadsworth’s two grant applications, which focused on literacy and math, received initial approval for being fiscally sustainable, but did not make the final round. He said he planned to study the successful applications, and the district likely would modify its grants for a second round of applications.

“We’ll kind of step back and re-evaluate,” he said.

Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus expressed disappointment as well.

“We spend a great deal of time and energy on the four grants that we submitted,” he said.

Kubilus said he planned to seek feedback from the Ohio Department of Education on Cloverleaf’s applications and then “analyze in hopes of being accepted in the second round.”

Among several grant applications, Cloverleaf collaborated with Medina and Buckeye schools for a grant called “Distance Learning Collaborative for Increased Student Learning Opportunities.”

The districts asked 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 at their home schools.

Buckeye Superintendent Brian Williams said he also was disappointed but looked toward round two.

“All the grants that we applied for made it through the initial sustainability round,” he said. “We’re very hopeful for the next round of grants.”

Medina County school districts do have an opportunity to try again for funding in the spring. The application deadline has not yet been announced by the Ohio Department of Education.

The $250 million Straight A Fund was created in the state budget signed by Gov. John Kasich in the summer. Initially, 420 organizations submitted 570 applications to be considered for funds to improve achievement and increase efficiency.

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