ESC not in line for state’s Straight A funding

LISBON – Although many schools will be entitled to apply for money through the state’s Straight A Fund, a pot containing $250 million, Educational Service Center Superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn told the board Monday that at this point that will not include ESCs.

According to Vaughn, some of the requirements is to show how the money can be used to improve student achievement and how it will affect the five-year forecast for the district. Because the ESC technically has no students or five-year forecast budget, at this time she is being told they cannot apply for the money for themselves. But she feels the ESC can partner with local school districts and help them write requests for the money.

Vaughn said there are some ideas of projects she plans to approach some local school superintendents with prior to the funding deadline.

According to a press release issued last week by the Ohio Department of Education, the Straight A Fund grants will provide seed money to the most creative and forward-thinking ideas of educators and their partners in the public and private sectors. The funds should help raise student achievement, reduce spending and target more resources in the classrooms.

Ohio’s biennial budget will dedicate $100 million to the program in fiscal year 2014 and $150 million additional in 2015. Those planning to apply will need to alert the ODE of their intent by Oct. 4.

According to Vaughn, many of the local school districts do not have the time or resources available to dedicate someone to writing and maintaining grants. In other instances, the ESC has helped the local schools obtain the grant and even helped to implement parts of it on their behalf.

In other matters before the board, president Richard Stoudt pointed out he recently learned from state superintendent recent testing shows 26,000 third graders in the state are not reading at grade level. Additionally, more than 60 percent of the high school dropouts cannot read at a third grade level.

“(Richard) Ross said probably the most critical aspect in education is seeing that they can read,” Stoudt said.

Although the study did not say how many third graders there are in the state, Stoudt said in his eyes the number still represents a significant number of children.