Local schools win $3 million-plus in federal reading grants

Several local school districts will share more than $3 million in federal grant money over three years to help “striving readers” improve their language and literacy development.

Northmont City Schools won the largest local stand-alone grant, at $951,000, while three other consortiums of schools working together will share money.

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Greeneview Schools and the Greene County Educational Service Center are part of a seven-agency effort getting $1.16 million; the Milton-Union, Bradford and Northridge districts will share $1.09 million; and five Summit Academy charter schools, including the one in Xenia, will share $292,000.

The grants come from a $35 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant that the U.S. Department of Education earmarked for Ohio last fall. That led to a competitive application process, where 110 school districts and groups of agencies applied for funds. The Ohio Department of Education announced the 46 winners Wednesday.

“Reading is the foundational skill that ultimately allows us to learn more,” said Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction. “These Striving Readers grants put crucial resources directly into classrooms across the state, and we’re excited to work with awardees to improve outcomes for Ohio’s most vulnerable children.”

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The three-year grant focuses on serving students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners and students identified as having reading difficulties.

Northmont Superintendent Tony Thomas said the money will allow his district to hire expert literacy coaches to help increase literacy achievement and close the gaps between subgroups of students.

“Mainly our literacy coaches will be coaching other teachers on literacy strategies. They will come in and model-teach the students to have the other teachers watch what they do,” Thomas said. “That’s how it becomes sustainable, because once the grant money runs out, by then those proven strategies are worked into your organization to keep the initiative moving.”

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