Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

At-risk program receives grant

November 22, 2006

A waiting list for an at-risk student program at Lansing High School has been trimmed with the help of a grant from State Farm Insurance.

New Decisions, a program that provides academic and emotional support for LHS students, received a check for $1,490 on Friday, Nov. 17, through State Farm's Good Neighbor Citizenship grant program.

The financial support is expected to reduce the program's lengthy waiting list of 47 students to about 40 by adding one hour per day to program facilitator Caren Freeman's salary during the second quarter of the school year, said Mary Alice Schroeger, director of the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund.

New Decisions provides supplemental support for 16- to 18-year-olds who are not achieving educational success within the traditional high school program.

Factors that may stand in the way of academic achievement include family and friends who engage in problem behaviors, addiction, a need to financially support self or others, medical conditions, anger issues, low commitment to school and a perception of failure, Schroeger said.

LHS principal Steve Dike said the length of the waiting list demonstrated the need for the program, now in its fifth year.

"The program's been very successful over the last four years. It's very important that we're not looking at long waiting lists," he said. "The problem is, if we don't address the needs of these students, we could lose them."

Schroeger, who also teaches at LHS, applied for the grant through the LEFF, which aims to provide financial support for Lansing schools.

She said the waiting list was continually reviewed to ensure that students who need the program's services the most are given top priority.

"Most of them are struggling academically," she said. "The love for learning is not there."

Schroeger added the financial boost from State Farm would provide time - a crucial component for setting goals and changing behaviors among teens.

"It takes about nine weeks to get a kid to trust you and then get them on the right track. We feel fortunate to have tools to help those kids," she said.

Dick Cameron, LEFF member and local State Farm representative, presented the check to LEFF president Tom Young on Friday.

"Our criteria fit right in with State Farm's. I wasn't hesitant about asking them for the money. Anything to help out those students who need the extra help," Cameron said.

Freeman, the program's facilitator, said the grant would allow her to meet with five to seven more students on an individual and small-group basis.

In addition, Freeman will track the students' academic progress by checking their grades weekly and serving as a liaison between them and their teachers, if necessary.

"I consider it like a support system for the kids," she said.

Most of the program's funding is provided by the Juvenile Justice Authority's Juvenile Prevention Grant through the 1st Judicial District, which covers Leavenworth and Atchison counties.

In fiscal 2007, the grant provides $22,500 for the New Decisions program. The Lansing School District also contributes $6,600.

Schroeger said she would apply for a State Farm grant to cover an additional hour of Freeman's salary for the second semester as well.

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