Grove City Record

AmeriCorps/ESCCO to partner with South-Western City Schools

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South-Western City Schools will participate in a partnership grant program between AmeriCorps and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

AmeriCorps will provide 45 volunteer members through the service center who will tutor South-Western students in second and third grades who have demonstrated weaknesses in literacy, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum John Kellogg told the school board Nov. 26.

The district will provide an in-kind contribution of $3,200 per volunteer, he said

The tutoring sessions will be school-based and will take place during and after school, Kellogg said.

The volunteers will be trained by the district to use literacy-based instructional strategies in order to align with current best practices, he said.

"We will also be hiring district teachers at each school to serve as after school coordinators," Kellogg said, "so after school, students will have a volunteer tutor and a teacher to coordinate their (sessions.)"

The tutors will serve full time, working 37.5 hours a week, he said.

The service center will target certificated teachers to participate in the program, Kellogg said.

The volunteers will not be paid a salary, but will receive a stipend they can use for educational opportunities or to help pay back their student loans, he said.

"The goal of the program is to accelerate student learning in literacy," Kellogg said. "It will have a positive implications for the third grade reading guarantee."

The tutoring program also will benefit student groups, including those with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program and English as a Second Language students, he said.

The district will begin training the tutors next month so that they can "hit the ground running" after students return from the holiday break, Kellogg said.

This year's program will run through the end of June 2013, so the district will be able to make use of the tutoring services into the summer, he said.

The grant has a component to evaluate the impact the tutoring program is having on second- and third-graders and the potential for future funding, Kellogg said.

If the program proves successful, the district may be able to apply for tutors for next school year and begin the program in August ahead of the start of next school year, he said.

"This is an exciting program that landed in our laps," Kellogg said.

Also at this week's meeting, the school board voted 4-1 to join the Central Ohio Compact.

The compact is a partnership of school districts, adult career-technical centers, colleges and universities, and business and civic leaders with the goal that by 2025, 60 percent of adults in the region will have earned a post-secondary certificate or degree.

Board member Jo Ellen Myers cast the only vote against the resolution, expressing concern that while it's good to help students go to college, the compact and its goals could be considered as being "almost social engineering."

The district has a commitment to make sure its students are college- or career-ready when they graduate, and the compact "will allow us to partner with everyone who will help us do that," board member Cathy Johnson said.

The compact is not legally binding.

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