Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
The Irving Independent School District recently snapped up both a $125,000 state grant and a $30,000 scholarship program.
The school district earned one of the Texas Education Agency’s Technology Lending Program grants, an award that funds Internet access for low-income families.
The $125,000 grant will give Internet access to about 240 students at Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center, Melody Paschall, associate superintendent of academic services, told the Irving’s board of trustees in an announcement on Sep. 17.
“We’re very excited about that opportunity for our students,” Paschall said.
The bulk of the coursework at Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center, which teaches grades 7-12, is available online. Of the roughly 300 students, about 70 percent are economically disadvantaged.
The Technology Lending Program grant was established by the 82nd Texas Legislature to help fund, implement and enhance technology equipment and access for students.
To be eligible for the grant the school district or charter school must “serve a population of at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged students,” according to application documents. The Irving school district was one of 124 school districtsin the state to earn the award.
The equipment for Internet access will be installed this year, while school officials are required to monitor the program and report progress to the state.
In another achievement for the district, Ford Motor Company Fund announced on Sep. 18 that the company would offer $30,000 in scholarships to Irving Independent School District high school students and an after school peer-to-peer program.
The scholarship program aims to promote on-time high school graduation and enrollment in college. Irving freshmen and seniors can start applying for a scholarship from Ford in early 2013.
"The Ford Driving Dreams Tour is giving Irving ISD students a wealth of resources to help bolster their high school education and motivate them to successfully complete high school," said Dr. Dana Bedden, superintendent of schools for the district. "We are grateful to Ford for entrusting this new initiative to our school district and helping continue to put our students first.”
The Ford program also includes a $35,000 donation for the district to buy two Ford Explorers that will be used to transport students and staff to district events.
"We are excited to energize youth about the importance of education," said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund. "Ford has a longstanding commitment to education and investments in programs that help build communities, and we couldn't think of a better partner than Irving ISD to launch this innovative program."
As part of Ford’s program, all 9,269 high school students in the district will enteran essay contest to describe “what drives their dream.”
Ford will award first, second and third place prizes. The top five essays, selected by educators and community leaders, will enter an online video competition. The five finalists (one per school) will win an Apple MacBook Pro and a Flip video camera to create a video based on their essay.
Voting for the best video starts Nov. 30. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a $3,000 grant to be donated to an after-school program of his or her choice.
Some information provided by Irving ISD.