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Can the programs continue?

PHS discusses the options

PRINCETON — As the 21st Century Grant program ends, the Princeton High School Board looked at what, if anything, can be done to continue some of the clubs started with this particular grant funding.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Principal Andy Berlinski reported 72 students regularly took part in the federally-funded 21st Century Grant program during the 2013-14 school year. Seventeen students took part in at least one grant activity every month. An additional 103 students participated in at least one grant activity during the school year, though not on a regular basis. Eighteen students are working toward earning a one-half credit of English during summer school, he said.

Berlinski commended grant program coordinator Julie Swedman on her leadership, saying it was a tremendous program and thanked her and the Regional Office of Education, which administered the grant, for donating some program supplies and materials to PHS for further use. The total program budget for the fiscal year was $86,899, which includes summer school but does not include Swedman’s salary paid by the Regional Office of Education.

Board member Stephanie Van Ordstrand said she would like to have consideration given to possibly continuing some of the academic grant program clubs into the new school year, at the expense of the school district. There are things that can be done through clubs that can’t be done during the regular class time, she said.

At least two of the clubs are expected to continue, Berlinski said. The Science Club teachers have said they want to continue that club and the Technology Club is expected to continue as well, he said.

As far as getting extra help in a subject, Superintendent Kirk Haring said students do have time at the end of the school day and during homeroom to see their teachers for tutoring or extra help. There is a substantial amount of tutoring available during day, more than ever before, he said.

Also, teachers will now be required to have set office hours for a few minutes after school, at a specific time and place, to meet with students, Berlinski said.

As far as school funding for new clubs, Haring said the district is receiving less state aid and has to be cautious about spending money on new programs or continuing programs that have been sponsored in the past. One of the reasons PHS has remained financially secure is because it has not spent outside its means. The district needs to continue to offer the educational program which it offers and not get outside its comfort zone in spending on extracurriculars, he said.

The University of Illinois Extension offers a lot programs, and maybe PHS students can be steered in that direction for these extra programs and clubs, board member Colleen Sailer said.

After further discussion, Van Ordstrand said she just wants the door left open for discussion and consideration.

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