County wins $2.4 million for schools Federal grant will fund 4 middle school programs

June 18, 1998|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's efforts to help middle school students in poor communities and reduce juvenile crime won a $2.4 million boost yesterday with a federal grant to expand after-school and summer programs at four schools.

The three-year grant -- announced by President Clinton in a White House ceremony -- is part of $40 million given to 98 school districts nationwide through the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Center program.

Baltimore County's application was ranked first of the 2,000 school districts that sought money from the program, and it was the only Maryland school system selected.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for four Baltimore County middle schools to help provide a safe haven for students during the school year and summer," said Marie Mayor, the county school system's coordinator of the Title I and Child Care offices.

"There will be recreational activities for the students, but there will also be academic programs led by certified teachers to help them have success on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program," she said.

The community learning centers program was begun to help rural and inner-city public schools provide safe learning opportunities after school, on weekends and during the summer.

The four Baltimore County schools selected to share the grant are Deep Creek in Essex and Dundalk, Lansdowne and Woodlawn -- four middle schools with high rates of poverty and low scores on Maryland's exams. More than half of the children at each of the schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, Mayor said.

Beginning in October, the four schools will offer after-school programs for at least 100 students each, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Bus transportation and snacks will be provided.

The eight-week summer program at the four schools will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and include breakfast and lunch.

The criteria for how students will be selected for the voluntary program have not been determined, Mayor said, but a key factor likely will be academic performance. Family nights and other tTC activities will be held to encourage parents to work with their children.

As part of the grant, the four schools will work with Baltimore's Living Classrooms Foundation to develop marine biology lessons for the students, Mayor said.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger -- who attended the White House ceremony -- said the grant will help the county's efforts to curb juvenile crime and help children in areas with greater poverty.

"If we don't capture these young children now, they'll be the future criminals of tomorrow," Ruppersberger said. "The after-school hours are a critical time for juvenile crime, and this grant will help other things that are occurring in the county."

For example, Ruppersberger said, seven of the county's nine police precincts have Police Athletic League centers, which offer activities to children ages 7 to 17.

Pub Date: 6/18/98

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