District looks toward funding for hybrid learning

While grant money could always vanish, the Warren County School District is making a concerted effort to obtain possible grant funding included in Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal.

The funding in question is new block grant funding targeted at hybrid learning initiatives.

According to the Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Initiative, hybrid learning “is the integration of digital content with traditional teaching in the school building. Hybrid learning enables teachers to provide more individualized instruction, empowers parents and students with additional curriculum choices, and creates a better learning environment at school, especially in times of shrinking budgets.”

A step in going after that funding, the WCSD board of directors approved a contract with Dellicker Strategies, a Kutztown, Pa. consulting firm, during a meeting last week.

According to the agreement, “Dellicker Strategies will help Warren County School District develop a plan for implementing hybrid learning within the school district and submit a hybrid learning grant application for future services.”

The total cost of that plan is $30,000.

Director of Administrative Support Services Amy Stewart indicated that the district had been the recipient of a grant used to pay for an additional reading position. She said that other monies in that grant can be utilized for technology and professional development. “This is definitely in that vein,” she said.

Coordinator of Grants and Foundation Development Matt Jones said that he worked with the state to “tweak” the purpose of the grant but noted that the state approved this use of the funds. That money “will cover the cost of this proposal,” he said.

“Will this also help us in the future,” Board member Paul Mangione asked. “By doing this, will we have a better chance of securing additional dollars through the state?”

Superintendent Dr. William Clark said that the “goal (is to) position ourselves to go at state funding,” he said. “This will get us up to (that) point.” He said the plan will give the district “data and (an) organizational plan. (We) can re-engage with Dellicker if we have funding, or do it ourselves,” he said.

Board member Jack Werner said that this initiative is “a long-term goal for us” and also part of general high-school reform.

“One of the things we heard in the entry plan was the utilization of technology,” said Clark. He praised the hybrid learning model, citing increased test scores as one benefit.

He did note that he is “not sure how it fits with our infrastructure” but noted that the model will “let instruction drive technology, not technology drive instruction. I want the instruction to be first, the technology to be second.”

The agreement was approved unanimously.