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After-school programs receive needed boost



POLK COUNTY -- Central and Falls City school districts, along with 20 other districts in Oregon, were recently awarded the highly-competitive 21st Century Community Learning Center grants.The grants will help fund the districts' after-school programs.Funded through the federal Title IV-B program, part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the grants are awarded to districts with high-poverty schools to improve student achievement outside of normal school hours.The five-year grant will give more than $2.05 million to Central School District's after-school enrichment programs at all five schools.In the first three years of the grant, the district will receive $485,000. In the fourth year, funding will decrease to $363,750. The final year of the grant, the district will receive $242,500."What we're doing as we move into it is not only creating a program but trying to create a structure around it so that we will be able to continue it and it won't go away," Central Superintendent Buzz Brazeau said. Buzz Brazeau The district also received the grant in 2001 to fund after-school programs but it did not cover the high school.Central partnered with Western Oregon University, MINET and the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation in applying for the grant in the spring.The district is now hiring coordinators and developing each school's program to be implemented before Oct. 1."I think some of the partnerships that we formed were key reasons for us having this opportunity," Brazeau said. "We've got some work to do but I'm confident we can get it done."Falls City's Family Academic Clubs and Enrichment for Success (FACES) Program has also been awarded a five-year grant, providing $129,136 in the first three years, $96,852 in the fourth year and $64,568 in the last year of the grant. This is the second 21st Century Grant Falls City has received. The first enabled the district to create the FACES program.FACES Director Amy Houghtaling said, given that the competition was tougher this time around, she was relieved when she heard Falls City had made the cut."It made for a good weekend, let me tell you," she said.FACES offers a homework help hour, enrichment classes for district students of all ages after school and educational field trips on Fridays when school isn't in session. Last school year, enrichment classes included music, art, theater and Zumba, among others. Amy Houghtaling This round of grant funding will allow FACES to continue paying Houghtaling, an onsite coordinator, and two enrichment specialists, as well as hire a reading specialist and outreach coordinator to work with students on building social and leadership skills. The number of field trips will be doubled, increasing to 20 per year.Houghtaling said that other than added field trips there are no plans to change the FACES structure or schedule."The program will be pretty much the same, with some extra bonuses, more staff and more support," Houghtaling said. "It will be nice to bring some jobs back."



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