By Brandi Makuski
Officials from the city’s new charter school say they’re scrambling following the denial of about $125,000 in federal grant money.
The Point of Discovery Schools (PODS) was sold to the Stevens Point School Board last year as an expeditionary learning (EL) model which could sustain itself using a combination of state and federal grants after a one-time investment from the district. The charter school’s staff members are also paid employees of the district.
“It was so sad, but it wasn’t just PODS- it was the [entire] State of Wisconsin,” said Jen Zach, governing board president for the school. Zach said the federal government has awarded the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction with grants “many, many times over the decades”, but this year, the state was not one of the federal recipients.
The grant money was slated for professional development of the school’s existing teachers, as well as funding for the school’s EL consultant.
Interim Superintendent Lee Bush told the school board of the denial in October.
“The [U.S. Dept of Education] received 27 eligible applications and only eight were selected for funding,” Bush wrote in a memo to the board. “It is my understanding that the PODS governance board will be discussing this unforeseen occurrence, and we will be communicating with them in this regard. This is very disappointing for everyone [who] has worked so hard on this grant.”
Zach said the school still plans to increase by 50 students next school year, and to hire new staff.
“It won’t be easy, but we’ll do what we have to do and we’ll make sure the funding will be there one way or another,” she said.
“The momentum we have doesn’t come from whether the finances are there are not- it always come from education opportunities for the kids,” Zach added. “It’s a really neat thing to watch the students learn and grow and employ the EL model- those things are happening in exactly the way we were hoping for.”
The PODS governance board will meet Tues., Nov. 10 at 6 PM at Jackson Elementary, 1900 W. Zinda Drive.