GALLIA COUNTY — Gallia County Local Schools is exploring new avenues to increase revenue.
Part of that process includes the continuation of a federal grant that funds after school programs known as 21st Century Educational Centers. In the county schools, every building has had this program at some point in recent years, however only the middle and high schools will have the program this year. According to Rochelle Halley, curriculum coordinator, the competition for these grants has increased greatly across Ohio.
“More groups are trying to take advantage of the program and so the money is spreading more thin,” said Halley. “We used to have this program in the elementary schools, whereas it’s only in the middle and high schools this year.”
The local grants were written with Dr. Denise Shockley of the Gallia Vinton ESC, which participates in the after school program as well.
“Dr. Shockley has been a big help writing three new grants here recently,” explained Sandra Plantz, title coordinator with the district.
These grants are open to any civic organization that wants to have an after school program, so long as it promotes academic success and cultural enrichment. With this, students receive time to work on academics and homework, a snack that is fairly substantial, and a variety of activities based on student interests. In the past this time has been used for 4-H, ping pong, learn musical instruments like guitar and cello, and take drivers education at the high schools. All of these programs are free to families and students. At the beginning of the year students will take a survey and administrators will choose activities based on those results.
Halley also made a point to explain that transportation is provided for students, and athletes can also participate, schedule allowing.
Superintendent Jude Meyers said he’s glad for this kind of program because it enables to school district to continue to help educate students in new ways. With the academic portions of the after school program students have access to teachers and resources they may not have at home, increasing their academic success.
The county school district has also received a new grant under Title IV, which used to be called “Safe and Drug Free Schools.” The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant can be used for well rounded education opportunities, safe and healthy students, and effective use of technology.
“The opioids and drug addiction is right at the center of what some of our kids are dealing with,” explained Meyers.
The district currently employs two school resource officers and two family liaisons (licensed social workers).
“We will look to expand our services in that area because we have a drastic need with what our kids are bringing to school everyday,” Meyers added.
Recently the district has contracted with Winghaven to also help address the problems that students face.