Though federal funding levels for education remain uncertain, so far the Rapid City school district is on course to receive at least $3.4 million in grant funds for various projects over the next year.
The school board approved three different grant applications during its meeting on Monday evening. A grant from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act totaling $3.3 million would go toward providing various federally required services for students with disabilities.
A second IDEA grant in the amount of $76,851 would provide funding for an early intervention program for children in need of special education services between the ages of 3 and 5.
A third grant for $2,591 would go toward providing shade for students at Stevens High School.
Awarded through the Skin Institute at Rapid City Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology, the grant would be administered through the Made for Shade Foundation and would pay for the purchase of a picnic table umbrella and a 10-by-20 foot E-Z Up tent. Set up in the school’s courtyard, the tent and umbrella would allow students to eat their lunches in the shade.
The Made for Shade Foundation is a Rapid City-based nonprofit organization focused on protecting students from skin cancer by setting up shade in the form of awnings, umbrellas, tents and trees.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and can be prevented by staying in the shade.
The Made for Shade Foundation has already invested more than $40,000 to put up shade elements on at least six school playgrounds throughout Rapid City, according to information provided by the school district. The group has also provided $10,000 worth of tents for student athletes.
In other business, the subject of art in elementary schools came up during a discussion of buying new materials for the elementary music program. The district’s elementary schools do not currently offer art programs, other than what is offered by Young Rembrandts, an independent group that offers art classes at certain buildings as an after-school activity.
Superintendent Lori Simon has previously stated that she is interested in creating a districtwide elementary art program. But it appears that program is on hold until the district puts in place a new STEAM² initiative that likely won’t be ready until later in the upcoming academic year at the earliest.
STEAM² stands for science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and medicine.
In the meantime, art programming will continue to be made available for elementary students by the Young Rembrandts program, according to Assistant Superintendent Dave Janak.