School district punished for success Department of Education rule blocks B & G clubs, district from grant

Mike Wright / Citrus Chronicle

A popular grant from the Department of Education seemed a perfect fit for the Citrus County School District and Boys & Girls Clubs of Citrus County.

The 21st Century grant provides funds for after-school programs aimed at high-risk students who would be aided with extra tutoring, art and athletics. Each program is designed specifically for the needs of each school.

The Boys & Girls Clubs met with school district educators to begin mapping out a plan and start writing the grant.

But they didn’t do that for one glaring reason: Citrus County’s Schools are too successful.

“From just a common sense perspective, it’s troublesome,” school board member Thomas Kennedy said.

Travis Anderson, chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Citrus County, explained in an email to district officials that the Department of Education changed the grant criteria this year to say only failing schools, those with D’s and F’s, may apply.

“This is something out of left field and caught everyone off guard,” Anderson wrote. “A lot of after school programs including Boys & Girls Clubs and school districts planning to write for this grant to fund their after school programs are out of luck.”

The club isn’t looking at a current program; Anderson said the hope was the grant would bring additional programs to high schools.

Anderson said he met with school district staffers about applying for the grant to assist high school students with tutoring, mentoring and physical fitness.

The state administers the grant, overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. Anderson reasoned that federal budget cuts forced the state to limit eligible recipients.

“That’s the trickle down effect,” he said.

Kennedy said Citrus County, which boasts schools of A’s and B’s, is punished for its success.

“We’re not eligible because we’re frankly doing a great job,” he said. “It seems like every time we meet the challenge and succeed and do what’s right for kids, we end up with the short end of the stick.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/school-district-punished-success

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