By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Lodge Pole Elementary School will receive a grant of more than $109,000 for a reading program for K-3 students.
"What this will allow us to do is continue our reading program at the elementary school. We've seen marked improvement in our students' reading scores with this reading program," said Less Wells, superintendent of Hays-Lodge Pole Public Schools.
Lodge Pole was one of 11 Montana schools to receive the competitive grants out of 41 schools that applied in November, according to a press release from the state Office of Public Instruction. The grants total $2.76 million, the press release said.
Joe Lamson, OPI communications director, said the money comes from a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that is intended for schools with high numbers of students in poverty. In their applications, schools had to demonstrate not only their need but also the capability to use the money to develop their reading programs.
The money must be used to hire reading specialists or train local teachers to use new techniques to teach reading, Lamson said. It cannot be used for materials.
Elaine Forrest, K-12 principal at Hays-Lodge Pole, said the school's reading program will be able to run for three more years thanks to the grant. She said the school's Success for All reading program had been funded for the last two years with federal money funneled through the state, but that the funding was set to run out this year. The school had planned to pay to operate the program one more year on its own if funding couldn't be found.
"I've come in and I've watched these little kids and the growth is phenomenal. ... I'm amazed at what this program has done for these kids," Forrest said.
Success for All is a reading program designed by the Success For All Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education reform. Its strategies include grouping students by reading level into small groups for 90-minute reading tutorial sessions, teaching writing with small writing workshops, and assessing students' progress every eight weeks, according to the group's Web site.
Forrest said the school put together the grant application in September and October. She said it will receive the money, which can only be used for kindergarten through third grade, next fall.
The money is part of a six-year grant, Lamson said. A second wave of schools will receive money in spring of 2005.