Fort McCoy News October 25, 2013

McCoy helps area schools secure DoDEA grants

BY THERESA FITZGERALD
Public Affairs Staff

The Sparta Area School District and the Tomah Area School District recently received notification that they have been selected to receive 2013 Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Grants. Sparta will receive $135,000 and Tomah will receive $615,000 over the next three years. The grants for Military-Connected Local Educational Agencies for Academic and Support Programs were submitted by each school district based on their district's needs.

Becky Walley, Fort McCoy Child, Youth and School Services School Liaison officer/Outreach Services Director, serves as the installation's primary point of contact for school-related matters. Walley said this is the third consecutive year Sparta has been awarded a DoDEA grant; previous grants awarded in 2011 and 2012 totaled $405,000. Tomah also received a grant in 2011 for $270,000.

To meet DoDEA eligibility criteria, school districts must have a military dependent student enrollment of at least 5 percent, and the schools in the district receiving the grant funding must have 15 percent military dependent student enrollment. Military dependent is defined as a dependent Family member of the Armed Forces or a civilian employee of the Department of Defense who is employed on federal property.

John Hendricks, superintendent of the Sparta Area School District said, "The district submitted its grant to support the Southside Elementary School, which had the highest academic needs." This was the first year that Southside Elementary was eligible meeting the 15 percent military-connected requirement. The grant Sparta received will provide professional development for teachers that specifically addressed identified needs in the areas of math and science.

"The school district is always appreciative of extra resources," he said. "The grant will enable the school to buy materials such as Reflex Math, Full Option Science System, and Engineering is Elementary (EiE). EiE is the framework for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs that bring math and science together for the elementary student. The investment in the professional development of its teachers will pay dividends year after year," Hendricks said.

"The school district is in the process of reporting on the first grant it received in 2011, and officials are very pleased with the results," he said.

Cindy Zahrte, superintendent of the Tomah Area School District, said the Tomah District has 426 military-connected students, equating to 13.8 percent of the school population. The grant was submitted for the middle school and high school, which have 245 military-connected students equaling 15.46 percent of student enrollment, making it eligible to apply for the grant. The grant Tomah received will go toward more personalized educational opportunities in math and strategic foreign language. It will provide the means to promote virtual learning opportunities, using programs such as Think through Math and Rosetta Stone. The programs are Web based, allowing the students to access them at school and at home.

Zahrte said, "The majority of the grant will be dispensed the first year to purchase the software and computers to support the coursework. The second and third year will be used for continued professional education for the staff."

"The grant was written to bring in guest teachers to spend either a semester or a year to teach strategic foreign languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic or Russian," she said.