Greencastle-Antrim School District awarded million dollar grant

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Greencastle-Antrim School District got the word last week that it received the full funding it asked for from the Keystones to Opportunity grant administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It will get $996,048 in federal funds, to be used to advance literacy skills for children from birth to grade 12. Molly Moran, director of reading and federal programs, explained to the school board April 19 what the money all means.

Accepting the grant meant adhering to many mandates, but Moran was anxious to implement them. Children in grades 4-8 would be especially targeted. Each student will become adept at e-readers and e-books, since that age group was considered "digital natives, born into the technology." The district will also create a comprehensive plan for all age groups; provide professional development to teach effectively in the 21st century using training modules developed by the state; utilize training to obtain higher order thinking, student engagement, authentic connections and technology tools; and take advantage of three literacy coaches.

"We've always wanted those," said Moran, "but couldn't afford them. They help teachers transfer the literacy plan into the classrooms."

The school will purchase Smart Boards for each room, and make sure each also has a library. More books will be used to support instruction in all subject areas. Assessment procedures will be put into place. A half-time person will handle the data, now spread out in various computer programs and offices across campus. The information will be pulled into one place to make analysis and reports more manageable.

Moran and a committee worked fast to apply for the grant. Pennsylvania had $38.6 million to give to school districts in a competitive process. G-ASD was one of 58 winners, and may apply again next year if it meets its goals this year. Moran was confident they would be eligible.

The application "was a huge task for us," she said. She watched the last informational webinar on Dec. 16, and a pre-application was due Jan. 13. The committee worked over Christmas break to get it ready. On Feb. 8 G-ASD was formally invited to apply and the paperwork was in by March 16. The winning announcement came April 16.

Other business

The board accepted with regret the resignation of Richard Lipella, business manager, effective June 30. He has been in the position for eight years, previously serving in Tuscarora for 13 years. Lipella, 63, said, "It was a very difficult decision."

Naming rights were also approved, as a result of donations to G-A MAAX. They were - Kaley Field score board, F&M Trust, $75,000; block house, M&T Bank, $25,000; administrative offices, Susquehanna Bank, $25,000; high school lobby, Edwin R. and Patricia K. Smith and Charles R. and Sue Smith Eckstine in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest R. Smith, $20,000; and high school weight room, in memory of Bob Ernharth by Carl C. Bivens, $10,000.