MONTGOMERY COUNTY – Grant funding provides MCPS students with opportunities to experience study topics with hands-on learning and outside of the classroom.
One such grant is the Frontier Culture for Christiansburg Elementary School fourth graders, which also supports the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) initiative.
According to the agenda item approved unanimously by the Montgomery County School Board members at their Tuesday, Nov. 7 meeting, “This grant will cover travel and admission costs to allow approximately 118 fourth graders to visit the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Va. The American Frontier Culture Foundation raises funds each year to provide assistance for school field trips to the Frontier Culture Museum. All of these programs incorporate the Virginia Standards of Learning.”
The $4,500 grant will cover not only travel but admission costs for students, teachers, and chaperones.
Also approved under the Consent Agenda by the board, The New River Valley Home Builders Association Microgrant Program awarded funding as well to support programs within the construction and home building industries. The award will provide funds for projects and materials to designated schools in the amounts of: Blacksburg Middle School, $1,000; Blacksburg High School, $1,000; and Eastern Montgomery High School, $2,000.
The MCPS Board were united in their approval of a grant application that would provide a total of $23,576.40 to fund the purchase of 30 Meta Quest 3 virtual reality (VR) headsets and carrying cases, Meta Quest for business headset management software license for one year, and VR apps.
The grant will benefit STEM programs in Math and Engineering.
Superintendent Dr. Bernard Bragen presented one item during his report to the board. The MCPS Board had requested Bragen seek out a study on the expected growth in the county’s education enrollment, to provide needed data in preparing for population expansion in the future. MCPS Board members had hoped to see numbers on forecasted growth of the school system in targeted five-a-ndten-year increments. The report did include these future milestones for the county, but Bragen felt the report fell short of important details needed to provide a true picture of coming growth.
“They did a nice job in doing projections for birth rates and what our growth would be for schools over five and ten years, and we obviously know where our kids are going from first grade through, you know, twelfth grade, so we could kind of project that on our own. We know what our attrition rate is, and so on, and so forth,” Bragen said. “But what was absent from this demographic study was the growth, the growth of the community, the number of building permits that have been issued over the last couple of years and the anticipated number for this year and following years, as well as the projected and the growth experienced for Virginia Tech, which has a big impact on our community.”
Bragen shared his disappointment in the demographic enrollment report results with the Board and that he plans to seek out a new study which will be made available later.
A public hearing was also held for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSR) funds, which must be held every six months according to School Board Chair Mark Cherbaka. There was no public comment in response to this agenda item.
The MCPS board voted unanimously in support of revenue and expenditures in support of grants and federal funding as part of the FY2023-24 Supplemental Appropriation. The total amount, as listed on the MCPS meeting agenda, is $1,774,309, and was allocated to the FY2023-24 Operating Budget.
Bragen said, “Mostly, 1.2 [million] of that is our ESSRs funds, and how we allocate it and how we’re spending it. Once the Board approves it, then we send it to the Board of Supervisors.”