USD 383: Board approves $150,000 elementary reading grant

By Dylan Lysen

Three more Manhattan- Ogden elementary schools will receive funding for a state reading initiative starting this spring.

The school board unanimously approved accepting a $150,000 Kansas Reading Roadmap grant during its meeting Wednesday.

Kansas Reading Roadmap is a state initiative that aims to align classroom and after-school literacy programs for struggling readers to increase the percentage of students meeting goals at the end of third grade, said Lucas Shivers, USD 383 director of elementary schools.

Along with classroom learning, the initiative provides after-school and summer programs and family engagement programs.

In 2014, the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan began offering the program at Bluemont, Lee and Theodore Roosevelt elementary schools. Marlatt Elementary joined the program in 2015. “These sites have successfully completed the components with robust student growth,” Shivers said.

Leah Fliter, board member, said the funds are actually federal money the state has the authority to grant.

“This is an example of when you target additional money to things, you get results,” she said. Eric Reid, assistant superintendent, said the school district’s results so far in the four schools have been “phenomenal.”

Marcia Rozell, board president, said she liked the program because it starts at the kindergarten level.

Superintendent Marvin Wade said the program focuses on being a preventative measure.

“They believe that people who learn how to read don’t get incarcerated, they have less issues of substance abuse,” he said. “It’s a preventative investment.”

The school district plans to replicate the program for the three new school sites. Shivers said the sites would be through the school, rather than through the Boys and Girls Club.

“Boys and Girls Club does a great job at those sites, they just don’t have the capacity to move to these other buildings,” he said. “That’s why we’re working directly with Kansas Reading Roadmap rather than working through a partner.”

The school district will receive almost $150,000 from the Kansas Department of Children and Families, with the opportunity for annual renewal, to focus on academic interventions for about 30 students at each building.

Shivers said the grant will last the school district until July and then it will renew the annual grant.

“It’s kind of a random time to start in the spring, but we’re really excited to get something to boost our scores for the final push toward our end of year benchmark assessments as well as a summer program,” he said. In other business, the board approved purchasing projectors for Northview Elementary’s fifth- and sixth grade classrooms.

The projectors at Northview were expected to last five to seven years but have not been replaced in 11 years and are “failing at a high rate,” said Mike Ribble, director of technology. The purchase of new projectors at Northview would begin a multiyear process of updating projectors throughout the school district.

The purchase of the equipment would be from Cytek Media Systems of Topeka, which provided the currently used projectors 11 years ago. The district would pay $12,650 from its technology equipment fund for the projectors.

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