GASD to get $4M in funds


Recorder News Staff

The Greater Amsterdam School Board was awarded two amounts of funding totaling nearly $4 million, announced at the school board meeting Wednesday night.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara presented the district with a $75,000 check at the beginning of the meeting, giving a brief description of its purpose before allowing the board to return to its agenda.

President of the GASD Board of Education Nellie Bush said the grant, which has no strings attached, is a gift to the district from the state government.

"Each assemblyman gets a pot of money," Bush said, "and because [Santabarbara's] brand new, he was able to secure $75,000 for us in the school district, which we're very grateful for."

That money will be used to hire a technology instructor at the high school.

After the short check presentation ceremony, Superintendent of schools Thomas Perillo announced that Tecler has won a competitive Request for Proposal grant from the state for William B. Tecler Arts in Education Magnet School.

"I was notified today ... that the district is being awarded that grant in the sum of $3,891,406 for intervention at Tecler," Perillo said. "We are, needless to say, very excited about this grant and interventions that we will be able to have at Tecler."

Bush, wide-eyed, pretending to wipe sweat from her forehead, asked Perillo to repeat the number.

"$3,891,406," Perillo said again.

The grant, specified as a "turn around" grant, is awarded to schools on the state's priority list.

The district applied for this grant last year and was denied, but the state gave them feedback so they were able to try again. On its second round, it was approved.

Perillo said the grant can be used to fund a wide variety of things and they are listed within the grant paperwork. All funding must be used within the Tecler school.

The grant language will be provided at the next board meeting, but Perillo listed some areas he said he knows it covers.

"It's restricted, but let me just give you a little bit from what I know," Perillo said. "There is a provision for coaches, job coaches."

"Also a math coach, a literacy coach, a behavior coach," Michele Downing, director of data and personnel at GASD, said.

Downing was one of a small group who was responsible for writing the proposal and worked with the state in acquiring it. She also noted some areas the grant covers.

"There's also [funding for] an assistant principal in there," Downing said.

The grant also stipulates funding for reconfiguration of the building like walls and a fence for the playground.

Downing said she already has a list of positions the grant will allow the district to create and potential people for some of the positions. The creation of those positions will be raised as resolutions during the next board meeting.

The grant will be available for use starting Sept. 1 of this year until Aug. 31, 2016.

All positions hired within the time period will only exist within it, "unless the board decides to pick up those positions or the grant gets continued," Perillo said.

After the meeting, Bush was still smiling, excited about the funding the district received.

"We will be able to provide children with the services that are really necessary," Bush said.

Of the awarded funds being received so close together, Bush said "this is how it always happens" and "this is a happy thing."