Schenectady County

Grant to let Mohonasen add to vocational program

Mohonasen Central School District officials hope to expand vocational programs in criminal justice,

Mohonasen Central School District officials hope to expand vocational programs in criminal justice, engineering and other areas with a state grant of about $1.8 million over three years.

The district was selected to receive a School District Performance Improvement grant of $589,000 annually because of its success in improving student performance, especially among students with the greatest educational needs.

The grant will allow the district to build on the initiatives it is already offering.

Mohonasen has a criminal justice program, but Superintendent Kathleen Spring said it would like for students to be able to obtain college credit through agreements with local community colleges.

The district also has a program called “Tech & Trades” that allows students to explore hands-on construction fields and take civil engineering, computer and electrical classes. Mohonasen also participates in the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering curriculum.

The district would like to expand vocational offerings in machining, sports management, medical technology and culinary arts, Spring said.

District spokeswoman Adrienne Leon said the grant would fund college-level programs and remedial classes to help get students up to college standards.

Money from the grant will fund positions in math, science and technology at the high school level. Spring said she is looking also to bring back a kindergarten teacher, a fourth-grade teacher and a sixth-grade teacher that were cut in the budget.

The district’s teacher and principal evaluation system has to be approved by the state before Mohonasen can spend any of the grant money. Spring said the district had submitted its evaluation plan by the July 1 deadline but has not heard back from state officials.

“It’s kind of stuck at State Ed right now,” she said.

She said state officials gave her about seven pages of items that need to be addressed in the evaluation plan so she does not think this would be resolved immediately. She acknowledged that the board is taking a calculated risk in spending these funds before the grant money comes in.

“We are very sure we will be approved within the next month or so,” she said.

Once the district has the money in hand, she said she would like to establish a coordinator of STEM technology and college and career readiness. This may involve restructuring some of the high school administration.

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