SANDPOINT — The Lake Pend Oreille School District was awarded a grant to implement a 21st Century Community Learning Center program at Farmin-Stidwell and Kootenai elementaries.
“The purpose of these 21st Century Community Learning Centers is really three-fold,” said Andra Murray, LPOSD director of Teaching and Learning. “They have to provide some academic support, they have to provide enrichment, and they need to offer activities that qualify as family engagement.”
The district received a five-year grant that will total more than $150,000 just in the first year, Murray said. Over the course of five years, she said, as long as the program remains in the federal budget, the district could see up to $700,000 in funding for the program.
The program is authorized through the Every Student Succeeds Act, Murray said, and is funded through the U.S. Department of Education. Murray said she and LPOSD Superintendent Shawn Woodward wrote the grant last spring after conducting a “thorough needs assessment” in surveying families.
“Our families indicated a strong interest in academic support after school, but also a desire for enrichment opportunities,” Murray said. “Hands-on was a theme from our families, and STEM we heard over and over again.”
Therefore, she said, literacy support, homework help and STEM activities will be the focus of the after school program at both sites. In addition, Murray said the facilitators will focus on some social-emotional connections, service learning projects, music opportunities and physical fitness.
There will be more than 75 students participating at each school, and the district is required to maintain a staff to student ratio, so the majority of the first year’s grant will go to staffing, Murray said.
With an “overwhelmingly positive” response to enrollment, Murray said there is already a waiting list of students for the program.
The centers will operate from when the regular school day ends at 2:40 p.m, and 1:40 p.m. on Wednesdays, and will run until 6 p.m., though students are not required to stay there the entire time.
“We are still in the planning stages … but we will be fully operational on the first day of school,” Murray said. “This is truly one of the most exciting opportunities I have had thus far in my career, to think about meeting the needs of 150 families in our community who will have after school support, enrichment … to really collaborate on something of this magnitude is such a gift to our district.”
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