Schools receive $2 million in state grants for after-school programs and college prep

Two grants totaling $2 million will support after-school tutoring and mentoring for younger students, and foster college and career planning at Wellington High School.

The money comes through the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program.

More than 300 Ohio school districts applied for the grants. Wellington was one of 107 chosen to receive a part of roughly $21 million in newly available funds.

An additional $23 million was also handed to districts who’ve already received money in past years.

Over the next next five years, the Wellington Schools will receive the money in $400,000 increments.

Having “well-planned programs in a rural district” was a major criteria for new grant applicants this year, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Students at Westwood Elementary and McCormick Middle School will become eligible for mentoring programs through the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County, which superintendent Ed Weber said can be an underrated aspect of stamping out bullying.

To help with expanded after-school activity, district athletic director John Bowman’s role will now be called student life coordinator with virtually all after-school programs falling under his supervision.

“The more someone gets a positive mentor in their life, the more it perhaps makes them less likely to bully someone,” Weber said. “Bullying is a word everyone knows, but it’s fair to say when you have a bullying problem you also have a mentoring one. John Bowman is a great person and we’re glad to have him in this role.”

Bowman was promoted to athletic director last year following the departure of Denny Ziegler, whom he worked under as an intern.

“Mr. Weber asked me once what the kids think of me as I’m walking down the hall,” Bowman said. “I’d assume an athlete would recognize me but maybe there are other kids who don’t know me as well. Now I’ll be able to communicate with all the kids. I’m a Wellington person. Odds are I know the family of kids who aren’t athletes. I’ve always had the ambition to get involved with all the kids, not just athletes.”

At WHS, a full-time college adviser will now be employed instead of only being on site two days per month. Students will also be provided with three vouchers to take the SAT or ACT free of charge and a bus will be available for club participants who stay after school. Money could also possibly be put toward college tours, Weber said.

“It was the board’s initiative and desire that led to this investment in our kids,” he said. “They’re not just test scores. We’re building someone’s son or someone’s daughter. We’re partnering with their parents in that process and it can’t just be about test scores.”

Four new information technology workers and two who will work under Bowman will also be brought on.

“If you have ambition to stay after school, you’re going to be more driven during the day,” Bowman said. “A kid that’s invested in the school is so much more likely to succeed than someone who just leaves when the bell sounds.”

While the money must go toward initiatives the grants are tied to, it will likely help mitigate the loss of $210,000 in annual funds that were cut from Wellington in the new state budget.

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier