S.P.A.R.K.S. programs to close

By Genine Hopkins

Renewal funding for most of Beaverton and Gladwin area schools, and for Farwell High School and their S.P.A.R.K.S. Programs (Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success) has not come through, causing a cancellation of those programs by the Clare-Gladwin RESD for the 2013-2014 school year. The RESD oversees SPARKS programs throughout their region.

Last year, Harrison Community Schools, Farwell’s Elementary and Middle Schools were renewed, and hopes were high that the funding for the schools up for renewal would have the same result; unfortunately it did not pan out that way.

Molli Ferency, Communications and Marketing Specialist for the RESD, said that currently, the RESD has only received preliminary results that caused the move to close the programs. These grants – 21st Century Community Learning Center grants – are very competitive. Past successes aside, with the current political climate in Washington D.C., the chances were vastly reduced. As the reasons for the failure of the grants to be renewed are released by the RESD, the Clare County Review will provide readers updates.

Farwell High School’s summer program/credit recovery is the only Clare County School affected. Farwell’s program has helped hundreds of students graduate on time through credit recovery after school and over the summer. The loss to the schools and their students throughout the Clare-Gladwin RESD will be felt.

Farwell’s program will end for the school year (at all locations) on May 30, 2013, with summer programs beginning on June 17, 2013. The programs will continue to run four days per week, Monday through Thursday, and end on July 25, 2013; past that date, the High School’s program will no longer be in operation.

Included in Gladwin County for closure of the SPARKS programs will be Beaverton Primary and Middle Schools, Gladwin’s Elementary, Junior High, and High School. It appears that the Beaverton High School credit recovery program was not included in this year’s award rejection.

It is unclear whether or not the RESD will continue to pursue other grants to begin these programs once again. Letters went home to parents on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, and of course, Facebook was lit up throughout the day. A press release will be officially issued by Ms. Ferency on Monday, May 20, 2013.

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