Newton, Rockdale schools get grant

CONYERS - The Georgia Department of Education announced earlier this month that Rockdale County Public Schools and the Newton County School System will receive funding for its Mathematics and Science Partnership program.

The school systems originally asked for $391,000 for the program that partners middle and high school math and science teachers with state college professors and provides college-level training that teachers can use in their classrooms.

RCPS announced late Thursday that the GaDOE sent RCPS, the lead fiscal agent, a letter on March 13, notifying them that their joint application with NCSS was awarded in the amount of $371,644 for the program that will run from July 1 to June 30, 2010.

"Your organization's proposal was strongly recommended for funding by the external review panel," Amanda Buice, MSP program specialist at the GaDOE, stated in the letter.

RCPS has received this award since 2005. In 2006, Rockdale began jointly submitting the application with NCSS to receive the award.

"We received $86,000 the first year, so the amount has jumped significantly since then," said Tracy Knutsen, grant writer for RCPS. "This is more than $100,000 more than in the last funding cycle."

About 120 middle and high school math and science teachers in Newton and Rockdale public school systems will benefit from the program, which starts this summer with a five-day institute, and will partner with post-secondary institutions like Clayton College and State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University. They also will take five full days of professional development training throughout the school year.

"Professional learning opportunities like this will help our teachers stay current with the most up-to-date math and science content knowledge and thus enable them to continue to provide top-notch instruction to our students," said Adria Griffin, middle school curriculum director at NCSS, in an e-mail

Kelly Barrow, science coordinator at RCPS, said later this year, school administrators will select individuals for the program and may include individuals who already participated in the program and want to continue their practices or educators who have not yet had the opportunity to participate.

"We want representation from each school," Barrow said.

Knutsen also said teachers will be able to share what they've learned with other teachers in their schools and systems.

"Our teachers have benefited immensely from sharing ideas and learning best practices," said Kathy Reese, director of high school curriculum at NCSS, in an e-mail.

The program is one of 25 programs in Georgia that was awarded funding for the continuation of its math and science program; the total amount awarded to state school system was more than $5.2 million, out of more than $9 million in requested funding.

The school systems are eligible for more funding for a continuation of the program from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, during the next application period.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.