Russellville schools gets $1.5 million reading grant

By OJ Stapleton -

The Russellville Independent School district recently received a federal grant that will give the schools nearly $1.5 million over the next two years to implement a birth to graduation reading program.

The grant was requested over the summer when the district submitted a 60-page application for the funds.

“We are elated that we were selected and excited about the possibilities for this,” said superintendent Leon Smith. “These federal grants are hard to get and we are very fortunate that we were selected.”

The program will have three main goals.

The first is to all young children are ready to read by the time they enter the school system.

Activities to support this goal include outreach to parents, caregivers, and providers, free age-appropriate books to young children, devices and apps for young children as well as academic and cognitive improvements for 5-year-olds.

Goal 2 will ensure all elementary and middle school students are excellent, accelerated readers. Activities include the instruction of a basal reading series at grades 6-8, coaching and modeling for all teachers in literacy strategies, expanding reading interventions and reading collections including new devices for checkout, implementation of the Peer Assisted Literacy Strategies (grades 6-8), and embedding professional learning for teachers.

And finally, Goal 3 is to ensure all secondary students read to learn by working with high school teachers across their content areas to implement literacy strategies. Activities include supporting a literacy coach.

“Russellville Independent has been aggressive in addressing literacy the past two years,” Smith said. “Implementation of Born Learning, Footsteps to Brilliance, READ 180 and Systems 44 for grades 3 -8, basal readers for K-6, and coaching for staff have already impacted our literacy program. We have seen significant increases in our reading scores. This grant will provide additional support to help every child to become more proficient in reading.”

This grant is for two years and has many different components. Federal money appropriated by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) will fund 100% of costs associated with implementation of the grant, and the district will spend $749,417 in the first year of the grant. The remainder of the funds ($749,732) is set aside for Year 2 of the project.

One of the other components of the grant will be helping to fund a new community-wide project called “Russellville READs!” This will include Stevenson Elementary school and its library; Russellville Jr./Sr. High and its library; and the Logan County Public Library. Through the use of an Outreach Coordinator, Russellville Indepedent will take its work into the community, working with parents, preschool/daycare providers and assistance agencies to find recruit and support young children. There are also plans to utilize a retrofitted school bus as a bookmobile to take resources and strategies throughout the community.

“We will be releasing more information as we move towards implementation in the next few weeks,” Smith said.

By OJ Stapleton

To contact OJ Stapleton, email or call 270-726-8394.

To contact OJ Stapleton, email or call 270-726-8394.

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