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CARES optimistic despite funding crunch

Kim Grizzel, director of the CARES before- and after-school and summer program for Crawford County students in grades kindergarten through eight, said renewal of federal grant dollars, while promising, doesn’t appear imminent, but she and other officials remain motivated to keep the program going.
Speaking to the Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees last Tuesday night at Milltown Elementary School, Grizzel said the funding was held up by the federal government’s inability to approve an appropriations bill until December.
Although the CARES program is in good shape to have its 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant renewed, the state, which administers the federal funds, hasn’t issued a call for requests for proposals (RFPs), and she isn’t sure when it will do so.
“So, we are operating like we don’t have any money coming in,” Grizzel said.
That means cutting back on expenses where it can, continuing fund-raising activities, and soliciting businesses and individuals for donations, she said.
Regarding the latter, Grizzel said the CARES program received some welcomed news when Evertson Corp. donated $10,000 and issued a challenge to other area businesses to match that.
“We’re really excited about that,” she said.
Grizzel said she is already planning on meeting with businesses to see if they also would be interested in making a donation.
Among the fund-raisers the program have planned are a yard sale on Feb. 23 (donations may be dropped off at Grizzel’s office at Marengo Elementary), a basketball league that will begin play on Feb. 24, and a demolition derby on May 17.
“At no time are we going to fold,” Grizzel said. “We’re going to have a program.”
Grizzel said there has been talk that the state may request RFPs in the fall, but, even if it does, she isn’t sure when funding would start.
The program, Grizzel said, does have a plan for long-term sustainability. If it is awarded another grant, it will have three main sources of income — grants, fund-raisers and fees/reimbursements, she said. The goal, she explained, is to save some of those fee dollars once the contract for the original grant writer is paid.
Grizzel also updated trustees on the first-year PACK program, which provides after-school services for students in grades nine through 12 at Crawford County High School.
Officials have struggled to get numbers up and have about 40 students enrolled, but that was expected, she said. The program, which is helpful for students struggling academically, isn’t mandated because of transportation issues, she explained.
To try to bolster attendance PACK officials have begun offering incentives, such as restaurant gift cards and MP3 players, Grizzel said.
She said Joni Stroud-Martin, the site coordinator, “really has been working hard” to get the program off the ground. Stroud-Martin, Grizzel said, has been coordinating with Cindy Cain, the guidance counselor at the high school, to identify students who have not passed the state-required GQE exam.
Grizzel added that PACK is also working with the high school’s National Honor Society to encourage its members to stay after school to mentor their peers.
The program’s goal at the beginning of the year was to have 60 regular participants, Grizzel said.
“We really think we’ll meet that,” she said.
In other matters, trustees:
•Viewed a presentation from Milltown Elementary officials and students regarding the school’s writing strategies and the Minds-In-Motion programs.
The writing strategies program allows students to use words that they learn to write stories, while the Minds-In-Motion program has students participate in daily activities in the gym that stimulate both sides of their brains.
Fifth-grade students also showed a PowerPoint presentation they made of fields trips they have taken.
•Voted 6-0 (trustee Tim Jellison was absent) to approve the following as part of a single-vote consent agenda:
—The appointment of Amanda Rumage as the school corporation’s representative to the Crawford County Public Library Board.
—The request of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter at Crawford County High School to attend the state conference in Indianapolis on March 6 through 8.
—The maternity leave requests of teachers Tarra Carothers and Tanya Roser.
—The resignations of Matt Poe as boys’ varsity golf coach, Lori Rennirt as Title I instructional assistant and Karen Cox at G/T coordinator.
—The appointment of Kelly Birkla as G/T coordinator.
—Appropriation transfers.
—The following bus addendum requests: Ramona Garrett, four miles per day for 68 days (total of 272 miles), and Billy Joe Walker, 7.4 miles per day for eight days (total of 59.2 miles).
—The appointment of Spring Beasley as a cook at English Elementary.
•Listened as Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge publicly thanked Crawford County officials for advance tax draws, which prevented the school corporation from having to borrow money as property taxes were delayed. He said the actual property tax settlement likely will be in February.