Mason Public Schools picked as big grant recipient for programs ensuring well-rounded education

Mason Public Schools has been chosen as one of the recipients of grant funding through the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s new $4 million “Champions of Excellence” program. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the announcement earlier this month, naming the 18 districts out of the 41 that applied who would receive funding through the competitive grant this year. 

Mason Public Schools will receive just under $300,000 for new or existing programs that fall within the concept of the grant program. 

According to a press release from the OSDE, the grant is focused on “ensuring students have access to a well-rounded education in a safe and healthy school environment.”

These grants will serve as investments in schools that spend every year seeking to advance or improve achievement by students with the addressing of safety, health and the effective use of technology. The grant is open to application from all Oklahoma districts, regardless of size. 

“Through this grant program, we are working to prioritize activities that promote well-rounded education opportunities,” Hofmeister said. “In order to reach those goals, it is crucial we invest in schools that have big ideas and bold plans that take shape in innovative programs to foster student learning.” 

“Oklahoma’s new ‘Champions of Excellence’ program is proud to make that investment in the outstanding Programs of Excellence announced (this July),” she added. 

Mason Superintendent Cindy Swearingen said the school is working on several programs with this grant funding, including a Spark PE Program, featuring sports and active recreation for kids; a Safety and Health Institute and Boot Camp, which will involve other schools in the county; a special Leader Week; a parent institute; suicide, alcohol and drugs teaching; first aid training and anti-bullying programs. 

“Our focus at Mason is safe and healthy students,” Swearingen said. 

The competitive grant features the grading of Character Counts, which Swearingen said they would also train students and parents on. Other things the grant funding will provide is new PE equipment, ‘walkie-talkies’ for all staff members, door access components, three new AEDs, student tablets and more. 

Swearingen said the funds will also help with professional development, as well as health and safety training, for teachers and staff, along with students. 

This new state grant is leveraging millions of dollars in federal Title IV, Part A funds to increase the ability of Oklahoma schools to improve conditions that better lead to student learning, according to the OSDE. 

Counting the funds Mason received, the 18 recipients of this year’s “Champions of Excellence” grant were awarded a total of $4 million, divided up between them. 

“By leveraging Title IV, Part A funds in a competitive grant process, already we are seeing innovative projects that will have a significant impact on students,” Hofmeister said. “These funds will help districts ensure their students have access to the education all Oklahoma students deserve.”

According to Swearingen, this state funding will help Mason Public Schools refine, improve and develop programs that are in the works already or soon will be.

By Josh Allen, ONL Staff Reporter

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