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Rowan-Salisbury School System to receive grants to help curb dropouts

By Sarah Nagem
snagem@salisburypost.com
The Rowan-Salisbury School System is receiving two state grants to help keep students in school.
The grants, worth a total of $263,000, were awarded to West Rowan High School and and a Communities in Schools program.
“Certainly this is something we can be proud of,” said Dr. Jim Emerson, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.
West Rowan High School will receive $150,000 from the N.C. General Assembly Committee on Drop-Out Prevention.
The school has proposed a new program that will offer flexible class schedules for students at risk of dropping out or students who have already dropped out.
Students will be able to take afternoon classes so they can have jobs while they work toward a high school diploma, according to the school system.
The program’s classes will be smaller than traditional classes, and students will be able to take online courses.
Communities In Schools, partnering with the Rowan-Salisbury system, is receiving $113,000.
The money will support a new program called Mission Possible ó Graduation 2012 at North Rowan Middle and North Rowan High.
Each school will have a graduation coach, said Vicky Slusser, director of Communities in Schools in Rowan.
These coaches will help students who have had trouble with attendance, academics and behaviors, Slusser said.
“The group of kids that we’re targeting is those that are struggling already,” she said.
Mission Possible will be available for about 50 eighth-grade students at North Rowan Middle, who will be invited to join.
The students and their parents will have to sign contracts saying the child will go to school every day and take part in the after-school program, Slusser said.
The eighth-grade graduation coach will track each student’s progress through the ninth grade.
Slusser said program participants in the eighth and ninth grades will go to after-school tutoring sessions three times a week. Each student will have a mentor.
The eighth-graders will have a summer camp this year.
Parents of students who complete the program will get a $100 gas card or Food Lion card, Slusser said.
“I hope that parents get engaged in this,” she said.
These grants come only months after the school system learned it has been awarded a $6 million federal grant to address student risk factors.
“I want to see all of our students stay in school and graduate from high school with a diploma so they will be better prepared to lead successful lives,” Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom stated in a press release. “With the addition of these two grants that concentrate on dropout prevention, I am very excited and pleased to see that our focus and efforts continue on an upward swing.”
The state awarded dropout prevention grants to programs that can serve as models for others, according to the school system.

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