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Danville schools land $508K literacy grant

The Danville Independent School District has been awarded a hefty, almost-$508,000 grant, referred to as “Striving Readers,” for prioritizing its literacy needs within the district.

Danville Independent Schools has been awarded more than half a million dollars in grant funding to improve literacy in the district.

Superintendent Keith Look said the “Striving Readers” grant is rewarding the district for intentional efforts to build capacity in literacy development.

“We’re honored to see our efforts acknowledged and see this as a great opportunity to push further our staff growth and student achievement,” Look said.

The grant will be distributed over the next two school years, through 2020.

Now, the district must form school-level literacy teams, said Olivia Jarrell, grants coordinator for Danville. She said those teams will play a vital role in identifying needs of each grade level. They’ll be made up of administrators and teachers.

Jarrell spearheaded the grant process and has been attending meetings at the Kentucky Department of Education with Megan Stallard from Edna L. Toliver Elementary and Lois Stepahban from John W. Bate Middle School, all who recently sat down with administrators and principals to relay the information and work to implement a plan.

Surveys will be done with parents, students and staff, as well as an assessment examining all of the services currently offered to find gaps and overlaps. Jarrell said this planning phase will occur over a two-week turn-around.

The plan for how to spend the funding on literacy needs is due back to the Kentucky Department of Education by June 15, and the district will receive the first part of the grant in July.

It requires the district to work with community partners. They include Danville Families First Resource Center, Danville preschools, Centre College, Heart of Kentucky United Way and the Boyle County Public Library. Jarrell said the biggest way these partners will be involved will be in efforts to reach those from birth to preschool.

“We don’t see those kids every day. We see kindergarteners, preschoolers, through 12th grade every day,” she said. “Those zero- to 4-year-olds, we’re really relying on those community partners to help us identify all of the ways we can reach those children in the community before they even get to us.”

Jarrell said early childhood education is often not included in kindergarten-through-grade-12 initiatives.

“That’s really unique for this grant and for this initiative — to be able to include kids before they even get to school. It should help our kindergarten readiness numbers and it should be able to help prep kids before they even get to us,” Jarrell said. “That’s a huge benefit to the whole community.”

Other members of the team, besides Jarrell, Stallard, and Stepahban, are Maggie Tibbles from Danville preschool; Jennifer Green from Mary G. Hogsett; Becky Fuqua from Jennie Rogers Elementary schools; Cassie Dickison from Danville High School; Mary Wells with Danville Families First Resource Center; Amy Longwill with Heart of Kentucky United Way; Ellen Prusinki with Centre College; Brittany Smith with the Boyle County Public Library; and Donda Kikendall, Wes Cornett and Superintendent Look with Danville Schools.

SO YOU KNOW

The Danville Independent Schools district has also received nearly $1 million in grants over the past four years, including the Math Achievement Fund, Read to Achieve and the New Skills for Youth grants, according to a news release.