2017-01-20 / Community

Grant spending plan approved

Funds will be used for college-readiness initiatives
By Michael Aushenker

Over the next three years, Simi Valley Unified School District will spend about $223,000 in state grant funds on college readiness-related endeavors.

Following a public hearing at the Jan. 17 school board meeting, in which no members of the community spoke, trustees unanimously approved its College Readiness Block Grant budget plan, which was finalized Dec. 6.

The district is receiving a total of $222,934 in CRBG money from the state.

According to the California Department of Education, CRBG funds may be applied only to college-readiness related endeavors, including developing honors and AP classes, covering fees on college-readiness examinations for kids who cannot afford them and increasing counseling services to help students with college admission.

Of the total, the district plans to spend $90,000 of the grant funds on expenses related to its Naviance college and career readiness software over the course of the 2017-18 school year. Another $90,000 is allotted for Naviance in 2018-19.

The remaining funds will be used to help socioeconomically disadvantaged students pay for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. About $14,300 per year is earmarked toward paying for exams through 2019.

The state’s $200-million College Readiness Block Grant, established by Senate Bill 828, is a one-time grant that California public school districts are receiving to support college readiness among students in grades nine through 12. The funds must be spent by June 30, 2019.

SVUSD’s $222,934 figure is based on the district’s 5,670 students who fit one or more of the following demographic populations: English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged or foster youths. This group represents about one-third of SVUSD’s entire student body.

Earlier this month, SVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Hani Youssef said the district received half of the money, or $111,467, last fall. The other half will arrive in March or April, which is also when SVUSD plans to begin spending the money.

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