A recent grant awarded to the Bremerton and Central Kitsap school districts will help aid students who struggle with reading this upcoming school year.
The federal grant, totaling $1.86 million, coupled with funding from the state Legislature, will bring 150 Washington Reading Corps members into school districts and community-based organizations to provide tutoring in reading for 6,000 elementary school students. The grant was made possible by a $950,000 proviso passed by the state Legislature in 2014.
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, “the Reading Corps is part of the Washington Service Corps, which is administered by the state Employment Security Department (ESD) using funding from the federal AmeriCorps program.”
Each district chosen was based on various factors, including: plan for member utilization and program design, family involvement, volunteer recruitment, the number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches, and the number of migrant/bilingual students.
“The Washington Reading Corps program is a proven winner,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “The group tutoring that these grants will provide will give students the additional help they may need. And because reading is so necessary in our lives, making sure all students know how to read, and read well, is a high priority.”
For Central Kitsap and Bremerton, the grant will supply the two districts with a total of six AmeriCorps volunteers for both districts. The AmeriCorps volunteers will assist students in kindergarten through fifth grade needing additional help with reading. Students will receive assistance during the day and after school to strengthen their skills.
“It is really helpful to have additional help that we otherwise couldn’t afford,” said Chris Wyatt, Central Kitsap’s director of student services. “With additional services, we can get more kids to standard.”
West Hills STEM Academy and View Ridge Elementary will receive assistance in the Bremerton district. Brownsville, PineCrest, Silver Ridge and Silverdale Elementary schools will also receive funding.
The districts also pay $3,000 per volunteer to help offset the costs of the program.
Patty Glaser, spokes-woman for the Bremerton School District, said she expects that the AmeriCorps members will assist between 75 to 100 students per school.
“These are the students that are at risk of not meeting benchmarks for their grade levels, up to and including tutoring interventions grades kin-dergarten through fifth,” she said.
The Washington Reading Corps program was first funded by the state in 1998, and Washington was the first state in the U.S. to partner its state education agency (OSPI) with the state’s Commission for National and Community Service and National Service.