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SBPS improves student academics with innovation grant

December 16, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff Public Schools was awarded the single largest grant they have ever received for Career Academy programming in January 2017.

Since receiving the $827,913 grant, the high school has used those funds to provide students with resources to prepare them for life after high school. The school recently completed an interim report on how the grant funds are helping the school achieve the Nebraska AQuESTT tenets and submitted their progress to the state.

As the school enters its third year of the grant in 2019, assistant principal of career academies and special programming Justin Shaddick said they wrote the grant proposal highlighting how Scottsbluff High School’s curriculum fit within the Nebraska AQuESTT tenets of college and career readiness, quality transitions, positive partnerships, relationships, and student success, assessment, educator effectiveness, and educational opportunities and access.

“All of those things were written into the grant in different ways and a much more lengthy process,” he said. “I think that’s what pushed us to get the grant and get it rated as high as we did.”

Through the grant, the school has brought in state-of-the-art technology and professional development opportunities within several fields like STEM, health care and construction. The school was also able to use the grant funds to purchase materials and supplies, which include 3D printers, virtual welders, video equipment, hospital beds, music tech lab equipment, animal crates, ultrasound equipment and other items.

Shaddick said they are looking to purchase an anomotage table for the health and life sciences. The table is a virtual library of human and animal cadavers that students can use as a clinical diagnostic tool through visualization.

The grant has also afforded staff professional development opportunities like Project Lead the Way trainings, Nebraska Career Education Conferences and school tours in Colorado and Michigan that the staff can bring back to the school.

“This really became a great way to bring a lot of things into the school that we never thought we’d be able to do,” Superintendent Rick Myles said.

Myles also said the district has safeguards in place to help replace equipment after the grant concludes.

“We’ve built in sustainability within our own structures in the district and this grant gave us a nice jump start,” he said. “Equipment wears out, becomes old, and technology changes so how do we make sure we have the structure within our own budget to sustain it and that’s what we’re already doing.”

While the grant continues for one more year, Shaddick said they are assessing the program effectiveness to extend beyond the grant. The duration of the grant is 30 months and the final report will be submitted in July. He is working with evaluators to determine if the model can be replicated and if so, they can apply for grants at the national level. The federal grants were just released that Shaddick is in the process of reviewing.

“If that’s not available, they want to see what other grants are out there where we can take the model and utilize it to apply for other grants,” he said. “Both the grant evaluators and myself want to continue to collect data because three years is a very short time frame to get any type of longitudinal data to say whether it’s effective or not effective.”

As part of the continued assessment, Shaddick is interested in looking at post-graduation to have at least five years of data to see the value of the career academy model. The school has heard from stakeholders and business partners who are pleased with the outcomes they have seen through their interactions with students.

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