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St. Lawrence Central among four local grant finalists

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School is one of four local schools that have been named finalists for an America’s Grow Rural Education grant.

Also on the list from St. Lawrence County are Madrid-Waddington, Canton and Morristown central schools. They are four of the 15 finalists in New York.

“We made the first cut,” St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said.

Sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, St. Louis, Mo., the program gives farmers an opportunity to nominate their public school district to compete for a grant of up to $25,000.

Nominating farmers had to have be actively engaged in the farming of 250 acres of corn, soybeans and/or cotton, 40 acres of openfield vegetables or 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture such as a glasshouse, nethouse or plastic.

More than 61,000 farmers nominated more than half the eligible school districts. Finalist schools were chosen for their program ideas and funding needs. These school districts also benefited from community support through numerous farmer nominations which strengthened the district’s application.

Mr. Putman said SLC applied for a $10,000 grant over the spring following their nomination by a local farmer.

“Only one $25,000 grant would be awarded in New York state. I chose to apply for the $10,000 grant. In competing for that $10,000 grant we’re only competing against Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties,” he said, noting there would be one $10,000 winner in the two counties.

Thousands Islands Central School District is also a finalist for a $25,000 grant.

Mr. Putman’s plan, if they receive the grant funding, is to use it for professional development.

“Our application was to use it for professional development. My plan is to use it for professional development for math and science, which is one of the things they’re promoting - to enhance education in math and/or science. We would put it to good use,” he said.

The 26 farmer advisory council members are currently reviewing the finalist applications to determine the winners, which will be announced later this month.

“We’re supposed to find out Aug. 28,” he said.

In all, the program will allow local school districts in 1,245 counties across 39 states to add over $2.3 million to their math and science programs.

Grants will be awarded based on merit, need and community support.

The merit component of the score will be based on the overall affect of the school district’s proposed use of the grant, the need component of the score will be based on the school district’s and community’s current financial status and the need for additional funding, and the community support component of the score will be based on the number of farmers who nominate a school district. The more farmers to nominate a school district, the more it demonstrates community support and strengthens their application.

“We received so many outstanding applications from rural school districts across the county,” Monsanto Fund President Deborah Patterson said in a press release. “The finalists truly went above and beyond what was expected and stand out as top tier choices.”

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education started with a successful pilot in Illinois and Minnesota, in which farmers were given the opportunity to nominate a public school district in 165 eligible counties in those two states. Now, the program has expanded to 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states.

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