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HCS receives $1 million grant for programs

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Money aimed at reducing dropout rate

By Kelly Cantrall

Hardin County Schools’ fight to reduce the dropout rate has secured more than $1 million in federal support.

The district unveiled Thursday morning a grant of more than $1 million from Department of Defense Education Activity for its dropout prevention and credit recovery programs through a federal grant.

The Department of Defense Education Activity informed the district Wednesday it would receive $1,080,000. The money will go to credit recovery and counseling programs, extended school services and materials for random drug tests at Brown Street Alternative Education Center, among other programs.

Brown Street Principal Robert King submitted a grant application in April. King needed money to continue changes at Brown Street, which is becoming a more therapeutic setting for at-risk students. That includes counseling services and post-graduation monitoring.

This is the second Department of Defense grant the district has received, which lessened the chances it would receive another.

“We weren’t expecting it,” King said, “but we went ahead and went forward with it because we believed in what we were doing.”

The district learned in June it didn’t receive the money, so officials went about gathering money from other sources. But officials were told Wednesday the Department of Defense decided to fund the programs because it still had money to give, King said.

Now the money the district and school found from other sources can be used for other purposes.

The grant will fund these programs for three years. King said the money will help in a myriad of ways, including identifying substance abuse in students and provide services for it, providing parenting classes to parents of students, and purchase new technology and P.E. equipment, King said.

Superintendent Nannette Johnston said the fact the grant was looked at again speaks to the quality of the application. The purpose of those programs is to ensure every student leaves with a diploma.

“It’s all about making sure every student is successful and graduates,” she said.

HCS had 184 students drop out of the district in the 2010-11 school year, and 130 students dropped out in the 2011-12 school year. Dropout numbers include students who have dropped out or  stopped attending school but no other school has asked for those students’ educational records.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.