School board approves grant application

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published December 5, 2012

HARPER WOODS — Harper Woods Schools has big plans that it is hoping come to fruition, if they are awarded additional school improvement grant funding.

The Harper Woods School Board approved a School Improvement Grant (SIG) application during its Nov. 20 meeting.

The grant funding will give the district extra revenue for specific programs and purchases.

“This is all gain,” District Business Manager James Dennis said of the grant funding. “There is no risk in this.”

The district has been chosen as recipients of SIG funding in recent years, but it has additional plans, if it gets money in this round of applications. The district is applying for more than $500,000 of the $6 million that has been set aside for school districts in the state.

“This is another great opportunity for the district, but it’s a competitive opportunity,” Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said. “It’s a competitive circumstance, but we’ve performed well previously in this domain.

“This is our second year working under the auspices of a school improvement grant,” he said. “The board would be well aware that that’s brought in now over $2.6 million in additional funding to the district that enables us to enhance our programs and provide additional support, not only to our students, but our staff, as well.” 

The district has a couple of different plans for the funding, if approved.

The first component is extending the school year, which will add even more hours of educational opportunity to the previous extention of the school day that the district implemented.

“This programming will focus on providing ‘proactive’ expanded summer school programs, which are intended to be preventative and/or of an enhancement characteristic, rather than ‘credit recovery,’ which ‘reacts’ to student who have failed classes previously,” Biederwolf stated in an email. “Our goal is to enable high-level student achievement within our traditional classroom environments.” 

The second component of the application will provide for additional technology for students.

It will give the district the funding to purchase a device for each high school student to facilitate student learning.

“In recent years, the Board of Education has approved purchases to enable each classroom in the district to be equipped with an interactive whiteboard and a document camera,” Biederwolf said in an email. “Here, the next generation in instructional technology usage — ‘1-1 technology,’ whereby each student has direct access to technology in the form of a laptop or an iPad — is sought. 

“Providing students this level of technology access will increase the level of student engagement and create learning environments that can be differentiated so as to align with the needs and interest of the individual student,” he said.