Gilroy High going after $8.5 million grant

Gilroy High School will apply for an $8.5 million, five-year grant designed to propel students down a college path, beginning in sixth grade.
Focusing on rigorous curriculum, student support and an awareness for students that college is an option, GHS has worked with Gilroy’s two junior high schools and local agencies to prepare the grant application for Gear Up, a federal college-incentive grant.
Its a change in culture, our expectations, our mind set,” said GHS principal Wendy Gudalewicz. “Initially, if you’re going to change a culture, change the mind set, you’re going to have to do it in a big way. This is not going to happen in bits and pieces.”
Gudalewicz did not know the likelihood of GHS receiving the grant because it is a brand new federal grant.
Even if GHS does not receive the grant, the school Can move forward on its plans, such as preparing six-year plans for junior high students to guide them through the rest of their pre-college education, making sure the curriculum -from the middle school on transitions smoothly from one grade to another and requiring students to visit one college a .year beginning in sixth grade.
The first year of the grant, the program is expected to serve about 350 students, and Icy the fifth year, about 3,000 students are expected to bene-:fit.
Over the five years, the -money will cover an array of ,costs, from $4.2 million for personnel from the federal grant and matching funds to -$126,000 for employee travel for mandated training to -$525,000 for equipment.
‘ Other agencies will help Gilroy High provide the matching funds and services it aieeds to get the grant. The Jiigh school will work with CAUSA, the Leadership Institute for Diversity, Gavilan College and the University of California, Los Angeles.
UCLA has offered to adopt a ‘ “house” at Gilroy High, providing information and support for the students in that section of GHS. Currently, GI-IS officials are looking for other colleges to do the same.
The other agencies involved will help provide support services to students, such as helping students with schoolwork. : As part of the grant, the high school plans to increase :the rigor of its curriculum by:
• visiting other schools with .higher rates of college-bound students and incorporating those practices that have worked;
• having all students take at -feast one college-level course prior to graduation;
• increasing the number of Advanced Placement courses offered and the number of students enrolled in them; and
• training staff on standards-based curriculum development.
The grant will start with sixth and seventh-graders at South Valley Junior High. Brownell Academy did not qualify to receive the services the grant would provide because it did not meet the limit for students on the federal free and reduced lunch program.
However, Gudalewicz said school officials will include Brownell as much as possible, and once students get to the ninth grade at the high school, they automatically get the benefits of the grant.
The grant lasts for five years, and after that, school officials expect to be able to maintain the level of service to students.
“After fiveyears of that, all you have to do is continue to provide the information, provide the support,” Gudalewicz said. ” We can find ways to sustain that. The rigor of the curriculum will stay.’
School board members heard about the grant at a study session for the 1999-00 budget Thursday night and expressed concern that the grant could end up taking money from the school district’s general fund, but it could actually save the district money, accoraiiig to Gudalewicz.
Part of the grant money will be used to pay a portion of the salaries for the four academic coordinators, new administrative positions that the school district has already planned on budgeting for next year.
In the second year of the grant, the school hopes to get funded enough to pay 30 percent of one academic coordinator’s salary. In years three through five, school officials hope the grant will fund 40 percent of all four academic coordinators, saving a total of about $500,000.
The grant will make pursuing plans easier, but if the school does not get the money, it will move forward on them anyway, according to Gudalewicz.
“(For example), we’re going to create a college career center with or without this grant,” she said.
For the center, the school will need about six computers, and the funding for those can come from a number of sources, such as the school’s capital outlay fund or technology fund. The computers, in turn, will help support the grant program, so they can be counted as part of the matching money or services the school needs to put up to receive the grant.
Board members gave permission for the schoolto apply for the grant, which it eeds to do by April 30, and GHS should find o ut June 15 if it will receive it. Then the board will review the grant in depth to make sure the district will not have to spend extra money to make it work.
“I’m so glad to see we’re targeting the sixth grade,” said Trustee David Carpenter. •
The motion to grant the school permission to apply passed unanimously, with school board members Mark Good and Richard Rodriguez absent.

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