Students at River View High School could soon see a big improvement in their science education.
The Finley school is a finalist for a $3 million grant that would be used to expand and upgrade science classrooms.
The only kicker is that the district must have $100,000 in community support for any state STEM grant it receives.
On a $3 million grant, that is an extremely reasonable amount to ask for. Many grants require matching money or a significant percentage to be produced by the recipient.
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The money doesn’t have to be in hand before the grant awards are made, and in-kind services count toward the total. The district already has about $60,000 in pledges, so that is encouraging.
It’s an ideal situation for River View.
Thirty-four districts applied for the grants and River View is a finalist in the program, which was created by the state to improve student opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.
With just 300 high school students, $3 million would go a long way toward increasing the quality of the facilities there. The money would be used to build a modern classroom with safety equipment such as an eyewash station. The school’s greenhouse would receive a makeover and faculty and storage space would be added.
The school’s current space is so tight that faculty must alternate between teaching chemistry or physics each year, making it challenging for students wanting to complete both before graduation. Freshman science has to be taught in a standard classroom, limiting the type of instruction.
School administrators are currently frustrated with the facilities. They start teaching STEM in grade school but can’t continue the program to the level they would like in high school because of limited resources.
School officials should know in mid-April whether the district will get the grant, and if they do they should have another month to get the $100,000 match.
The way the Finley community has rallied around its schools, we feel confident that with some effort the district can get the necessary local funding commitment. The buy-in doesn’t have to be huge. Community members can show support by buying a 4 X 8 brick with their name on it for $100, or an 8x8 brick for $250.
Companies large and small have operations in Finley. Some put a high priority on education in their giving criteria. Some need future employees with a strong STEM foundation.
Contractors would be an obvious source of in-kind services. Oxarc has already offered to donate a welding machine. Others could be tapped to round out the desired tools and equipment. It wouldn’t take long to get that last $40,000 the district needs.
We applaud the River View staff who pursued the grant for the betterment of their current and future students. Now it will just take a little hustle on the part of the district, and a generous spirit in the community, to get rest of the donations needed to make that vision a reality.