Federal grants provide boost to Shen programs

Shenendehowa Central Schools entrance on Route 146 in Clifton Park.

MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHERShenendehowa Central Schools entrance on Route 146 in Clifton Park. MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa Central School District will see $2.67 million come into its schools from a combined six federal grants for the 2017-2018 year.

The money that the district gets varies from year to year, Elizabeth Wood, assistant superintendent for curriculum, said at the school board’s Oct. 10 meeting.

Securing and using federal grants is a complicated process. Guidelines that districts have to follow in applying for and using the grants, Wood explained, are extremely strict and specific. On the other side of the coin, school districts also can’t rely on having the same amount of money in the grants, or even to be rewarded the same grants each year.

“There are some pretty significant swings from year to year and we’re never able to see it coming,” Wood said. “Because each of these is so laden with regulation, we have to pay very close attention to how we use the money.”

The six grants that Shen will receive all focus on different aspects in education.

The largest amount of aid to the district will come from a Section 611 grant of $1,950,129, which will go towards district-wide special education programs in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Shen will also receive $360,313 and $181,620 from Title I and Title II grants, respectively. Title I grants are meant to improve student achievement by provided extended classroom time in schools that fall below the district’s average poverty line. In Shen, the schools that will receive Title I assistance are Shatekon, Arongen, Koda, Okte, and Orenda. Title II grants go towards teacher and principal professional development.

The district will receive funding to support immigrant students as well: $31,055  supporting immigrant students and their  families, and $24,603 to support educating students who have limited proficiency in the English language.

Finally, $80,605 will go towards supporting Shen’s special education pre-k options, such as providing funding for private pre-school programs.

Shen is usually well into its budgeting process by the time the grant information comes in, Wood said. The Title I and Title II grant information came to her in early June last year, she said, which means that the district sometimes has to strategize using a “what if” mindset, figuring out ahead of time what the district might need or not need, or what can be reallocated.

Fluctuation aside, Wood pointed out that any aid the district can get only serves to bolster its programs, not detract from them. For the most part, she said the federal aid represents a substantial amount of money that comes into the district annually.

“It really does provide tremendous benefit to our overall academic program,” she said.