Golden Triangle schools receive federal funds for community learning centers

Carey Wright, state superintendent of education
Staff Writer

The Mississippi State Board of Education approved the distribution of $14.1 million in federal funds over a three-year period for 21st Century Community Learning Center grants to eligible districts and organizations for the 2017-18 school year.

Emerson Preschool, Sudduth Elementary School and Ward Stewart Elementary School in the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District was awarded $250,000 for the 2017-2018 school year with 100 percent funding, $250,000 for the 2018-2019 school year with 100 percent funding and $200,000 for the 2019-2020 school year with 80 percent funding. The total award is $700,000.

Church Hill Elementary School and South Side Elementary School in the West Point Consolidated School District was awarded $249,999 for the 2017-2018 school year with 100 percent funding, $249,993 for the 2018-2019 school year with 100 percent funding and $199,999 for the 2019-2020 school year with 80 percent funding. The total award is $699,991.

Columbus Middle School in the Columbus Municipal School District was awarded $250,000 for the 2017-2018 school year with 100 percent funding, $250,000 for the 2018-2019 school year with 100 percent funding and $200,000 for the 2019-2020 school year with 80 percent funding. The total award is $700,000.

The 21st Century grants provide federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for students, particularly those who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools. Typically, these programs are offered after school.

In the grants awarded, 15 new community learning centers received funding totaling $10.4 million and 23 centers received continued funding at $3.7 million over three years. Applicants went through a rigorous screening and evaluation process, and the Mississippi Department of Education offices of Federal Programs and Grants Management reviewed the final list of providers to ensure accurate funding and program viability.

“As promised, the MDE instituted new procedures for the grant application and awarding process to prevent the errors that occurred in 2016,” said Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We understand the importance of the community learningcenters, and we believe the new process strengthens accountability for the grant program.”

In August 2016, the MDE announced it was facing a deficit up to $19 million in the 21st Century grant program because more grants were awarded than available funds. The deficit dropped to $7.6 million after reconciling 21st Century funds between 2015-16 and 2016-17 and because reimbursement requests from 2015-16 were less than anticipated. The $7.5 million has been fully restored to the districts.

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