Free Money!

Straight-A-FundSorry, we all learned long ago that there is really no such thing as free money.  But, I thought you may be more interested in reading this blog with that title.  In last year’s state budget the Governor created a fund titled the Straight A Fund that would allow school district’s to compete for 250 million in funding over the next two years.  100 million dollars will be awarded in this funding cycle, and another 150 million will be awarded next year.

The Ohio Department of Education’s website describes the need for the Straight A Fund:  “The traditional education system has struggled to keep up with today’s pace of change. Many of our classrooms look like they did decades ago. But thanks to Ohio’s new $250 million Straight A Fund, educators now have an unprecedented opportunity to put good ideas into action. The Straight A Fund will provide funds to educational entities in Ohio with the drive and courage to try new approaches that: meet the learning needs of its students; reduce the cost of running a school or school district, and drive more dollars to the classroom

Through a rigorous screening process, Ohio will give creative and cost-effective solutions the seed funding they need to get off the ground. We will be on the lookout for proposals that solve specific problems in our schools, can be quickly duplicated by others and are sustainable.”

In Worthington we are working hard to honor the tradition of excellence that is Worthington Schools, but also to modernize and meet the needs of our students both today and into the future.  In so doing we submitted three separate proposals to the Straight A Fund requesting close to 9.5 million dollars.  Obviously we don’t believe the odds of all three getting funded are high, but even if none are funded in this round of funding we have developed ideas, researched best practice,s and are prepared to submit grants again in the next funding cycle.

Here is a short description of each of our three proposals (we think they’re full of the drive and courage to try new approaches):

Personalized Learning through One to One computing grades 9-12:  This Worthington Schools project aims to increase student achievement, achieve a reduction in spending, and utilize a greater share of resources in the classroom by providing 1:1 mobile devices to students grades nine through twelve. The project will allow for differentiation in genuine ways for all students with teachers who mine just-in-time data about the effects of differentiation; collaboration among students, teachers and parents who use technology every day in their collective pursuit of learning and increase the economic competitiveness of the region by preparing students for the technology saturated workplace. The project will reduce student failures in CORE subject areas of math, science, English, and social studies reducing costs associated with filling classroom seats with students repeating CORE courses to earn credits to graduate by placing students at the center of the learning experience, providing them with extended projects that require laptop use mirroring workplace assignments; and allowing students to be more organized and efficient (Weber, 2009) resulting in more student engagement and reduced behavioral referrals which cause less time in the learning environment for disruptive students. Worthington will use its Linworth Alternative School site as an early rollout site to provide data around use of devices, changes in classroom practice, and gather data to anticipate barriers to full rollout in our two large comprehensive high schools. Special attention will be paid to the level of support required for our teachers when students can experience ubiquitous use of technology instead of sporadic, occasional use and the change in planning behaviors required for such use in and out of the classroom. Students will have immediate access to new information for use in rich mathematical tasks and deeper and broader text dependent writing opportunities across the curriculum, as well as, greater opportunities to collaborate within and outside the physical school facility. Our teachers will become more connected, learning from a global network of educators and transcending current limits in their own professional development. In the long-term, Worthington students will be better prepared for college and career next steps in the technology saturated learning and work environments.  Request Amount:  $2,718,370.00

Connecting to Industry Building an Early College STEM Pathway from High School to Industry: is a partnership between the Worthington School District (LEA) and the Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc.  (Honda).  This program enhances and scales up the STEM programs in two comprehensive high schools that affords students the ability to stay connected to peers, athletics and the school community, encouraging students, including underrepresented populations (women, African-American, Hispanic, etc.), to enter into STEM courses in middle school and high school within the Worthington School District.  In creating a pipeline of  STEM students from Worthington, the district will create a STEM effort that links middle school, high school, and college-level efforts.  Students will directly benefit from this direct route to Columbus State Community College(CSCC) to start their post secondary education.  In addition, by creating a pipeline of students in STEM courses, students will be more adept in engineering areas not traditionally pursued by these populations. This project will build a STEM facility based upon the needs of industry and will create an early college high school aligned with CSCC where students will earn college credit while still in high school. These targeted college credits will be preparing the students for STEM related employment with Honda. The project will fund the renovation of the STEM facilities at both the Worthington District High School campuses, along with training equipment approved by Honda and CSCC. Amount:  $2,991,223.00

Closing the Achievement Gap through Personalized Literacy Instruction & Intervention: The 3rd Grade Guarantee and Beyond:  Worthington’s project proposal will increase reading achievement and growth in Grades K-3 through the use of research-based reading strategies implemented through a personalized digital platform in partnership with the Worthington Public Libraries.  Each student identified as off-track or near off-track will also be able to extend their learning day and year through the use of their individual mobile device and web-based digital resources.  The program will utilize resources and strategies that have already been proven to have high yield results and will ensure that by 2016 100% of grade 3 students will be at benchmark in reading.  Request Amount:  $3,645,823.00

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