Free tutoring soon will be available to students in Prentiss and Benton county schools thanks to a large federal grant.
The two districts collaborated to receive a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, which will provide about $1.9 million over five years. Winners were chosen by the Mississippi Department of Education, which is administering the state’s portion of the U.S. Department of Education’s program.
The Starkville School District also received a grant, as did a partnership between the New Albany School District and Shannon High School.
“To be able to provide a program like this at no cost to families is just phenomenal,” said Sherry Ferrell, Prentiss County School District special interventionist and program director for the 21st Century Grant.
Prentiss County will use the money to provide an after-school program three days a week at each of its six campuses. Marietta and Thrasher also will provide additional tutoring for an hour each morning.
During that time, students will work on homework and participate in enrichment, such as music, art, pottery, dance, poetry or photography. The grant includes funds to purchase equipment for those activities.
“We want to look at anything that gives kids some cultural experiences they are not normally exposed to,” Ferrell said.
The program will start Nov. 4 and run through the end of April. Priority will be given to those who scored in the bottom two categories on their state test, who have low classroom performance or who were referred by teachers, Ferrell said. Tutors will be teachers, assistant teachers and even students recommended by principals. They will receive a supplement for their work.
The district also will have a summer program during June.
Benton County Superintendent Jack Gadd said the district also will use the grant to provide tutoring and enrichment activities at each of its four campuses. It hopes to start it in about two or three weeks, Gadd said.
“It gives us more time on task,” Gadd said. “We hope we get the right people doing the tutoring and helping, and we’ll make it something they want to be a part of.”
Both districts will provide transportation home for students who stay after school to participate.