Redevelopment Commission approves $750,000 for BCSC

Bartholomew Consolidated Schools will get $750,000 from the city if the Columbus City Council agrees with a decision by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to fund programs designed to improve the graduation rate, increase education in math and science and help special needs students.

The school corporation asked for nearly $1.1 million to cover programs aimed at increasing student success. The areas focused on by BCSC include growing the graduation rate, increasing education in math and science, as well as helping students with special needs transition to productive members of society.

The school corporation asked for $253,825 in TIF funding for the iGrad program, which has a goal of attaining a 100-percent graduation rate in BCSC. Officials say that iGrad helps students with academic issues in grades 8 through 12, by increasing educational attainment through additional academic support and mentoring to students who have been identified as “at risk” for not completing high school. The program is about helping students receive the help they need to successfully complete high school, then go on to college, additional training or the work force. Corporation officials note that iGrad is also served by area businesses through internship, and co-op relationships. BCSC says that iGrad currently serves 535 of its students.

BCSC requested $575,000 in funding for the STEM program. STEM is the acronym of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. School officials say that although the four parts of STEM have been taught independently of each other, the STEM philosophy allows the four parts to all “play an integral part in the teaching of the whole.” They say that STEM education engages students and equips them with critical thinking, problem solving, and creative and collaborative skills that help them establish connections. BCSC notes that the STEM Seamless Pathways Project has been developed to help students develop the knowledge-base, skills, and qualifications necessary to meet the local demand for jobs in the fields of mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering technology. School officials told the Redevelopment Commission that STEM should affect around 60-percent of BCSC students.

BCSC officials also asked for $246,796 for what they call “Transition Planning.” They explain Transition Planning as identifying a student with special needs’ strengths, preferences, interests, as well as the supports needed to succeed. It is about equipping students with better opportunities and education to make good life-choices that will allow them to take care of themselves, find employment and be less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. carry over into adult life, increased self-determination skills, social skills and work skills needed for job retention, and less involvement with the criminal justice system.

The Redevelopment Commission voted Monday night to approve total funding of both the iGrad and Transition Planning programs, noting their importance in the betterment of the local community and economy. The body also voted to fund the STEM program at just under $250,000. The agreement is for one year, though BCSC and the Redevelopment Commission indicated that future funding would be asked for, and likely granted, should the first year prove successful.

The funding request will go before the city council for final approval, due to the amount requested.