By Rupert Howell
If you thought you saw a school bus running too late in the early afternoon or early evening, you weren’t imagining things.
Superintendent Tim Wilder told his board of trustees that South Panola District is tutoring 500 students after school through the 21 Century Grant approved last summer affecting grades K-8.
“We had so many sign-up that Scootie (Transportation Director Scootie Murphree) had to run 12 bus routes to accommodate them,” Wilder said explaining that buses were running as late as 7 or 8 p.m.
“We’re shooting for 6:30. That’s our goal,” (to have children at their homes) Wilder added noting buses were leaving schools by 5:15 p.m.
He explained that students were involved with physical activities, tutoring in related subject areas and snacks during the after school sessions noting, “At very little cost to the district.”
The district was recipient of a 21st Century Grant that allows extended day and summer school programs in grades kindergarten through eighth.
Wilder told trustees at their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday that the district would apply for additional funds for high school students with their next application.
Wilder earlier explained the five-year grant would amount to $499,973 the first two years, decreasing to $399,978, $299,984 and $199,989 in subsequent years with the district matching the decreases.
The Department of Education grants were established to provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.
Wilder explained that funds currently being used can offset cost of the match money and said last summer, “I think this will be very beneficial to students. I am really excited about this grant.”
The second year South Panola Superintendent earlier explained the program would involve 24 weeks of four day, 2.5 hour after school sessions focusing on reading and common core standards as well as performing arts, exercise, organized recreation and character education during the school year.
The program will also involve four, four-day weeks with three hour classes with similar structure during summer recess
Wilder added that he hopes the program can also be used to help students failing in one subject area to earn credit in that area during the summer session.