By John Coffelt, Staff Writer
Manchester City Schools was recently awarded $107,377 as part of the state LEAPS (Lottery for Education Afterschool Programs) that will fund programs at all three city schools.
“We have once again qualified for the LEAPS grant that offers programing for children ranging from afterschool tutorial services to enrichment programs,” Director of Schools Lee Wilkerson told the Board of Education during the August meeting.
Manchester applied for funds to continue the program that was started several years ago at the two Westwood schools. College Street was added last year. This grant will continue for two more years.
The grant process is highly competitive, as more requests are made than there are funds for. Schools across the state requested $27 million out of a pot of $14 million available. Awards were made according to technical merit. Districts receiving scores of 70 out of 100 points were considered. MCS received a 90.5 points.
“For us to get as much as we did, it made us quite pleased. That translates to, at our school alone, 900 hours that we’re going to be providing services to kids,” said MCS LEAPS coordinator, Chad Fletcher, principal of Westwood Middle.
Funds are awarded each school year for three years.
“Each year there are a lot of people who win the lottery and for whatever reason don’t come a collect the money they’ve won. It translates to millions of dollars. Tennessee awards grants for before and afterschool program grants with that money,” Fletcher said.
Money from the grants cover things like tutoring, homework help, book club, science club LEGO league, volleyball, weightlifting, theater, music class and computer class.
“Really what we do is ask each school to be sure to provide homework help and tutoring specifically. That way if there are some kids who need some extra help or academic assistance,” Fletcher said.
“We have teachers here at 7 (a.m.) to work with kids and stay open until 4 (p.m.). “
At 5 p.m., the enrichment programs begin. Students are polled and the most popular activities are offered.
Volleyball was overwhelmingly popular at the middle school.
“For us it’s an opportunity to be able to do extra. We get a lot accomplished in the 8-3-day. But there are some kids that need a little extra time. And we want to be able to provide that for them and additionally, provide a safe place for them.”
Tricia Jameson, who heads the LEAPS program at Westwood Middle said that the summer program is funded through LEAPS.
“It also funds Blast Camp that gets fifth graders ready for middle school and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Camp. The elementary schools have done things Tennessee History and Government, wax museum camp, science camp,” she said.
“And we feed them each day. That’s another way that we helped take care of them.”
Fletcher noted too that this was all funded through grant money.
“This costs the school system nothing. We were able to use that money to provide that extra something to meet their needs, and explore some of the interest that they have identified to us that they would like to know more about.”