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OUR VIEW: Big boost for education in Ravenna

$850,000 federal grant funds 21st Century learning center

Published: September 25, 2013 4:00 AM

Young people in Ravenna stand to benefit greatly as the community becomes the first in Portage County to participate in the 21st Century Learning Center program, thanks to an $850,000 federal grant that will provide academic and youth development services at Brown Middle School and Ravenna High School.

The grant will be administered by the Community Action Council of Portage County in partnership with the Ravenna School District. Funding will come from a five-year grant that will require no matching funds at the local level.

The program is expected to begin by mid-October, providing after-school activities, including tutoring, for students in grades 6 through 12. While it is geared to improving the academic performance of low-income and "at risk" students, it also will be open to those who might want to enroll to become better prepared for college.

Superintendent Dennis Honkala, who has stressed the need to improve academic standards during his tenure as head of the Ravenna district, said that he hopes the program will enable the district to improve its graduation rate and improve services to low-income students. Ravenna received a "C" on its state report card for its graduation rate and an "F" in the service category. Participation in the 21st Century Learning program is a sign of responsiveness.

The program, which will be headed by retired Ravenna teacher Amy Adams, will be funded through a $200,000 grant in each of its first three years, with reduced grant funding in the final two years. The 21st Century program, which is a national endeavor, has been implemented in about 40 Ohio communities, but never before in Portage County.

In addition to the CAC, other partners in the Ravenna program include Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority and the Portage County Access Network.

Adams said she hopes the program will "have a huge impact" on the students who participate in it. There is no question that it sounds promising, a worthwhile investment in Ravenna youth that, hopefully, will bring big dividends in terms of academic growth.

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d_p Sep 25, 2013 10:33 PM

trawl - An educated populace scares who silly?  I've never heard anyone object to education.  You too can obtain the grant requirements and info.  I don't know for sure, but am fairly confident "low-income students" was a requirement or starting point.  It seems to me this grant can be augmented and broadened to accommodate as needed.

trawl Sep 25, 2013 3:24 PM


I think you need to understand that while many complain about the money what they really object to is education.

An educated populace scares them silly.

The article also states "(the program) also will be open to those who might want to enroll to become better prepared for college." so someone focusing on the "low-income students" aspect is a bit troublesome. It seems they themselves have received a poor education and wish others to get the same.



d_p Sep 25, 2013 1:32 PM

Redleg - take a look at yesterday's article at:  http://recordpub.com/news%20local/2013/09/24/ravenna-agency-gets-850k-to-help-students    The grant is going to be administered by CAC (Community Action Council) using federal funds.  The 21st Century has finally come to Portage County (with 87 years left to go), funded for five years allowing everyone else to watch the results and potentially collaborate to expand the effort to other school districts and income levels. 

These are public dollars, available to be scrutinized by the public - CAC is administering the grant, so will have the records.   There are 10 other school districts in Portage County and now is when they should all start watching to see if this will be successful "for the children"....

1994 is when I first remember hearing "it's for the children" so regularly during school levy issues (for local tax dollars).  A first grader and senior from 1994 would be ages 25 and 37 in 2013.  Colleges and universities have been complaing for quite a few years those entering higher education are not prepared to do the coursework and need remedial high school classes, while at the same time offering advance placement and college credits to students in high school.

These dollars are not a "windfall", but program dollars to do a specific thing, and salaries are included.  One way to make the grant dollars go farther (for the children) would be for those retired teachers who will be involved to take a lessor stipend or salary than originally budgeted and involve more school districts to 'spread the wealth' of knowledge the $850,000 will create.

You're right "we" are paying, have paid and will pay through tax dollars.  We also need to expect our governments, school boards and every non-profit and business who receives tax dollars to use them in the highest and best ways to accomplish the purpose, and should hold them accountable. 

Obtain the grant and budget info from CAC and follow it .  It's not that difficult and could prove to be an interesting venture for you that can be applied in other areas.

redleg6 Sep 25, 2013 9:17 AM

From above:...While it is geared to improving the academic performance of low-income and "at risk" students...

hopes the program will enable the district to improve its graduation rate and improve services to low-income students...

Are they saying low income is the reason students don't learn? The schools have these students 6-7 hours a day. Maybe the $850,000 should be spent on training teachers how to teach. Now we have to pay twice and hire tutor teachers that couldn't get the job done the first time.

How much of the $850,000 go to teachers/administrators wages?

Remember this $850,000 windfall for the educators at Levy time.

By the way, Abe Lincoln lived in a one room cabin with a dirt floor and became President. So in my opinion, low income has nothing to do with learning.