MCS benefits from grant funding

By Brian Sweeney
Margaretville Central School officials have recently been notified of two grants awarded to the district.

The district will be receiving a VAP (Virtual Advanced Placement) grant through Ulster BOCES and a Replication Grant from the State Education Department.

MCS Superintendent Tony Albanese said the district is pleased to receive both of the grants. He explained that VAP funding will give students access to six fully online AP courses that will be available to students in the fall. Margaretville will have a specified number of seats available to students for the courses, based on an education department formula.

Linda Holik, information facilitator at Ulster BOCES, noted in her grant explanation to districts that the purpose of this project is to provide opportunities to low-income students.

Superintendent Albanese said the VAP funding will enhance Margaretville’s curriculum offerings.

“The Virtual AP Program will fill a gap in our current program.  Our students will be able to participate in advanced placement coursework through an online and blended model.  Due to the Mid-Hudson BOCES Consortium, many students attending small rural schools will have added educational opportunities that were not available in recent years. This is a ‘win-win’ situation,” he explained.

Six fully online AP courses are being developed for the VAP program and will be available to students in the fall. Districts have the option of building the class into the student schedule during the day or have them do the work outside of school hours. Class topic choices will include: Psychology, Art History, Statistics, Computer Science A, Human Geography and Comparative Government and Politics.

Students who are enrolled in one of these courses will have a laptop with Internet access assigned to them by Ulster BOCES to complete the work. They will utilize the laptop for the entire school year.

The grant will also pay for the AP exam in the spring of 2014 if the students complete their course work. The teachers assigned to teach the courses will monitor the student work virtually and communicate with the students directly via Moodle, Google Docs, and telephone, as needed.
Teachers for these courses will be hired directly by Ulster BOCES. An application to apply to be an online teacher will be available soon for any district teachers who might be interested.

Replication Grant
MCS was also one of 13 districts awarded a Replication Grants for Low-Performing Schools to replicate the best practices of the Commissioner’s Schools Dissemination Grant award recipients.
The grants are designed to help successful schools identify and share their best practices, explained state Education Commissioner John B. King

“Last year, we awarded Commissioner’s Schools grants that are designed to help successful schools identify and share their best practices,” Mr. King explained in a release announcing the awards last week.  “Replication Grants will help struggling schools implement those best practices.  It’s another step toward giving students in struggling schools more opportunities to succeed.”

Margaretville will team with Carle Place Union Free School District to implement the key practices that have made that district one of the state’s top performers.

Superintendent Albanese said that MCS will receive $150,000 of two years to incorporate the grant strategies with Carle Place aimed at bringing school performance improvements at Margaretville.

“We are looking at the replication grant as a positive way to learn from our colleagues, support our teachers and advance our students,” Superintendent Albanese told the News.

 “Carle Place UFSD was identified by MCS for using data to define strategies to increase student achievement and is most closely aligned to our targeted need to increase student performance and ultimately our graduation rate.  Being identified as a ‘best practice model’ and recipient of the Commissioner’s Dissemination Grant the Carle Place UFSD is a great fit for us,” he added.