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Local schools to benefit from $10.5 million grant

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

Seven Denton schools and three schools in Little Elm will be the beneficiaries of a grant that Communities in Schools of North Texas recently received through the Texas Education Agency.

Communities in Schools of North Texas, based in Lewisville, recently learned it is one of 19 recipients preliminarily selected for Texas 21st Century Community Learning Center Cycle 8 grant funds. Selections that were announced June 24 include school districts, education service centers, community-based organizations, higher education agencies and public and private organizations.

The group, which operates dropout prevention programs in Denton and Wise counties, intends to use the funds to launch Afterschool Centers on Education at 10 Denton County schools, said Dana Smith, chief executive officer for Communities in Schools of North Texas.

The schools are Denton school district’s Hodge, Lee, Evers Park and Newton Rayzor elementary schools and Calhoun, Strickland and McMath middle schools, and Little Elm’s Oak Point and Hackberry elementary schools and Lakeside Middle School.

“For us, it’s significant because we’re able to serve 1,200 to 1,500 additional students in Denton County,” Smith said. “We’re thrilled that TEA believes Communities in Schools of North Texas has the capacity to manage something of this scale, and they want to make sure that the kids of Denton County are taken care of, and we believe that we can do that.

“We’re just really excited.”

According to a Communities in Schools of North Texas media release, the organization intends to receive an overall award of $10.5 million that will be distributed over five years to fund free after-school and summer programs with a focus on “academic enrichment, youth development and family engagement.” The group will also look to create 120 mentor, tutor and administrative help positions, according to the release.

Grant funds will allow students to get a “hand up so they can succeed academically,” Smith said.

The grant, she said, will take effect Aug. 1. Smith said the start date for the Afterschool Centers on Education programs at the Denton and Little Elm schools is Sept. 16.

Smith said the schools selected for the 10 Afterschool Centers on Education programs were recommended by Denton and Little Elm administrators who identified schools with the greatest need, limited resources and with students who showed signs of being at risk. Its partnerships with area school districts and other groups within the Denton community played a key role in Communities in Schools of North Texas being a Cycle 8 grant recipient, Smith said.

Sharon Cox, district spokeswoman for the Denton school district, said Communities in Schools of North Texas will assist seven Denton schools with “a high number of economically disadvantaged students.” Communities in Schools of North Texas is one of the district’s top partners and has made an impact by helping students become successful academically and build their self-esteem, Cox said. Five years ago, Communities in Schools of North Texas established 21st Century programs in Denton schools, and Cox said the district has seen successes for the students who participate.

“The Communities in Schools liaison is such a great link between the home, school and the community,” she said. “This will expand the school day for students who need more individualized attention to be successful in school.”

The total amount available in Cycle 8 grant funding is $34,692,848, according to a TEA official. Amounts distributed to each grant recipient will be finalized in the coming weeks, according to the agency.

“Each project will receive a minimum of $50,000 for the 2013-2014 project period; maximum funds per applicant are $2,200,000,” DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokeswoman, stated in an e-mail.

Culbertson said the grant is funded from Title IV Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The last amendment to the act was the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.