Grant money for tutors runs out soon |

Grant money for tutors runs out soon

by Sharlene Irete

When the funding from Senate Bill 404 grants runs out in June, Scarselli Elementary School may lose the paid tutors from its tutoring program.

SB404 was approved by the 2005 Legislature to create the Commission on Educational Excellence, a panel that reviewed applications and issued grants dedicated to schools. Funds for the one-time awards were released early 2006 and run out 18 months later.

Grant money requested by the schools had to be linked to goals outlined in individual school improvement plans. Some schools used grant money for materials such as computers, books and software, but staff at Scarselli opted to use the money for what they found to be an effective tutoring program.

Principal Brandon Swain said the program is very successful and they would like to continue if they had the money to pay the tutors.

“We have five competent tutors who work one-on-one with students,” Swain said. “Even 10-20 minutes a day makes all the difference in the world.”

Swain said volunteers are used and appreciated at Scarselli but the paid tutors come with teacher training.

“Most of these five tutors were substitutes and are aware of the strategies to teach reading and math. They’re more able to fit right in,” he said. “We focus on instruction on teaching or testing data so we’re making a difference for these little guys on their phonics and comprehension.”

Scarselli’s tutoring program is not funded by the Douglas County School District and it is up to the Legislature to make grants such as SB404 available in the future.

As director of grants and assessment, Dr. Janice Florey was part of the team writing grants for SB404.

“Just about every school submitted a grant,” Florey said. “All schools were funded to some degree. More money was requested than was available but the panel reviewed school improvement plans and looked at what was reasonable.

“With No Child Left Behind, there’s a lot of demands put on all schools and all sub-populations.”

Even so, Florey said it was made very clear that grants would be a one-time award.

“We really encouraged people to think about what if the money came to an end in 2007 – staff was guided in that,” she said.