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Six Jefferson and Lewis school districts awarded $2.9 million grant

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Six school districts in Jefferson and Lewis counties received a federal grant to help students get ahead in science, technology, engineering and math.

Grant leader Lyme Central School, Chaumont, was awarded $2.9 million to pool with five other districts to develop STEM-centered courses with the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Syracuse University and Clarkson University, Potsdam.

“One of the reasons we applied for the grant is because we know our kids are missing out,” said Lyme Superintendent Karen M. Donahue. “We’ll offer resources we’ve never been able to offer before,” such as Advanced Placement courses and technology sharing.

Sackets Harbor, Alexandria, Belleville Henderson, Copenhagen and LaFargeville central school districts will be sharing the grant with Lyme.

According to a news release, the five-year grant is a part of the Department of Defense Education Activity’s Fort Drum Rural Initiative for STEM Excellence.

“Syracuse University’s Office of Professional Development will provide evaluation supports and technical assistance to Fort Drum RISE, while Clarkson University’s Office of Educational Partnerships will be tapped for professional development and expertise related to science, mathematics and engineering curriculum,” the release says.

Mrs. Donahue said she hopes eventually to include Jefferson Community College in the partnership.

The grant will fund science and math enrichment programs, including hiring more teachers in those subjects. The release also says STEM enrichment primarily will be for high schoolers. However, those in seventh and eighth grade who demonstrate interest also will receive those resources.

Mrs. Donahue said the superintendents will meet soon to determine how the money will be split and what services could be shared, including online classes. The programs will start next school year, and there may be a kickoff summer program.

“We’re fortunate and very grateful,” Mrs. Donahue said. “The state budgets have killed us. ZIP codes should not determine the quality of our education.”

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