SHERMAN – Sherman Central School District’s hopes to expand its pre-kindergarten program to full-day this year have now been made possible by funding from a state grant, board members learned recently.
During a presentation on the role of grants in education, superintendent Kaine Kelly announced to the board that he had received a call informing him that a three-year grant of $108,508 per year had been approved.
“We got it,” Kelly said. “The plans that we had to do this are now paid for starting immediately.”
The pre-kindergarten program will occupy the room formerly used as the elementary library, Kelly said. There are 22 students or 11 per class, signed up for the exclusive full-day program. It will be largely funded by the new grant and a state competitive grant, he said. “It is absolutely going to be ready.”
The funds come as a universal pre-kindergarten grant. It is one of several types of grants that Kelly spoke about in his presentation. Grants have become vital part of the district’s budget, he said.
“It is really important for us – a small, rural school with little money – to be able to go out and get grants such as this for $100,000 a year. It’s a big boost to our budget,” he said.
Kelly told the board that both state and federal grants demand great accountability. Sherman strives to stretch the dollars it receives to maximize its benefit. “Each grant has its own accountability program. Every year we analyze these grants to maximize their efficiency – to get the most bang for our buck,” he said.
Other than UPK grants, the district also benefits from Title I and Title II grants, Kelly said. Title I grants are slated improve academic for disadvantaged students. Most of what the district receives goes to salaries, he said.
Title II grants are awarded for teacher and staff training and professional development, Kelly said. Among other things, this grant goes for mentor training, professional development, travel expenses for developmental programs, and principal and superintendent conventions, he said.
The district also receives IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) grants which are used for special education, Kelly said. This grant is used largely for salaries, he said.
Competitive grants were created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo only a few years ago, Kelly said. They are given to schools that have demonstrated success in increasing student performance, narrowed the achievement gap and promote academic achievement in students with the greatest need.
In other business, Kelly announced that the district has come up with a plan to improved busing Amish students. The district provides transportation for more than 95 Amish students each day, he said.
“It’s been a thought of mine for some years – to do a separate Amish run,” Kelly said. Under the current busing program, many Amish students have to wait at the school, he said. Still others have a long bus ride, because they are on buses with Sherman students.
Kelly said he has been meeting with transportation director Jared Oehlbeck and the Amish superintendent Marvin Miller. They have developed a plan to transport Amish students separately from Sherman students, thereby cutting down on the time spent on the bus as well as the number of buses involved, he said.
“The Amish welcomed the thought, to cut down on the time on the bus,” he said. He will be meeting with the elders of the Amish community soon, he said.