Rockdale school board approves federal grant project

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Education gave the go-ahead on a federal grant project that will develop a magnet program at Memorial Middle School.

At this month's meeting, the board approved a contract between Rockdale County Public Schools and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement for $676,849 over two years to create the program. The funding comes from a federal Race to the Top Innovation Fund grant that RCPS was awarded in September.

RCPS will implement the Rockdale 21st Century Academy of Environmental Studies, a magnet program at Memorial Middle School, that provides students with applied learning opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. It's being developed as a school within a school model.

The program will include a partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology through the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing, as well as the Advancement Via Individual Determination.

The grant will supply a project coordinator for $76,000 a year; videoconferencing equipment; supplies for a science, research, water quality and renewable/sustainable energy labs, a weather station and an outdoor classroom; summer programs; digital infrastructure upgrades; and other materials, according to the approved plan.

According to the plan, the program will continue to be developed and staffed and have students identified and selected this winter and spring. The system plans to open it in the fall with 300 students.