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4 Clark County schools seek $13M in state grants

Several grant proposals by local school districts have passed the first hurdle for state funding through the Ohio Department of Education’s Straight A Fund.

The area grant applications total more than $13 million and could be awarded to four Clark County districts: Springfield-Clark CTC, Tecumseh, Clark-Shawnee and Springfield City School District.

About $160 million is available through the fund created by Gov. John Kasich in 2013, with the goal of improving efficiency and student achievement through innovation. Of the 340 applications submitted this year, 238 proposals made it to round two by showing that their plans will be fiscally self-sustaining.

Springfield Clark CTC was awarded $240,000 in Straight A money last year to develop an energy conservation training program in conjunction with Energy Optimizers in Tipp City. CTC is hoping to get $1.1 million this year to expand the program to 16 more districts across the state.

“This all came about after Energy Optimizers did an energy audit on our campus in 2012, and used some of our students in our (career technology) programs to assist,” said CTC Superintendent Rick Smith.

Now students are trained to perform energy audits at other school buildings and present their findings to school boards.

Tecumseh Local School District proposed two projects for Straight A funds and both have moved on to the second round.

The district requested $892,703 to procure tablet computers for every middle school student.

Tecumseh also requested about $83,000 to create an online school to be called Arrow’s School of Advancement. The online curriculum will be available next year to students in grades 6 through 12 who believe a brick-and-mortar school isn’t a good fit for them, but still wish to remain part of the Tecumseh school community.

The online school will be up and running next year whether the grant comes through or not, but the district won’t have enough money to purchase the tablets without the Straight A funds, Superintendent Brad Martin said.

“We’re very elated today,” Martin said about learning that both proposals had passed the first step to approval. “You’re talking about almost $1 million we could get.”

The Springfield City School District is leading a consortium that has applied for $11 million in funds to renovate South High School and turn it into a career exploration and training center. That consortium includes the Springfield Clark County CTC, the Global Impact STEM Academy and Clark-Shawnee Local School District.

The planned Greater Springfield Career ConnectED Center would become home to GISA, Clark State Community College’s new precision agriculture program and a collaborative career readiness program serving students from all the partner districts.

“By collaborating with other school districts, colleges and our business partners, we knew we could increase student opportunities and save money,” Springfield Superintendent David Estrop said. “That’s what the Straight A Fund is all about, innovating to improve teaching and learning, yet doing so without costing more over the long term. We’re pleased that our proposal met the financial sustainability guidelines and has now moved to round two.”

The consortium hopes to learn if it has been awarded the grant sometime in late June or July, district spokeswoman Kim Fish said.

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