Lucia Mar, Paso schools win grant

Two county school districts and the county Office of Education will receive federal technology grants aimed at improving high school graduation rates and preparing graduates for college or careers, state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell announced Monday.

The Lucia Mar Unified and Paso Robles Public Schools districts, as well as the county Office of Education, were three of 151 recipients statewide to receive a total of $36 million from the Enhancing Education Through Technology competitive grants.

Lucia Mar will receive $250,000. The Paso Robles district will get $50,000, and the county Office of Education will receive $10,000.

The grant will fund efforts by school districts and other educational agencies to improve high school graduation rates and collect data on students’ performance after they graduate from high school.

“They’re saying, ‘Here’s some money to go out and see if the job that you’re doing is actually paying off for these kids,’ ” said Andy Stenson, Lucia Mar’s assistant superintendent of curriculum.

District administrators plan to put a teacher on special assignment in part to ensure that curriculum at the three high schools — Arroyo Grande, Lopez and Nipomo — is closely aligned. A classified staff position will be created to work with a data system that tracks student performance.

The district will also use some of the money — about $60,000 — to pay for some technology upgrades at Lopez High School.

Paso Robles administrators plan to use the money to buy 10 laptops, wireless equipment and software to improve an already existing reading program at Paso Robles High, as well as a system that identifies and aids students in danger of not graduating, according to Scott Knuckles, the district’s director of information and technology.

The money will also pay for a lab with 30 workstations offering up to 15 online career, technical and college preparatory courses for Paso Robles High students, Knuckles said in an e-mail.

The grant funding is provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program. Eligible districts were required to have state-approved technology plans and receive federal Title I funding.

“These grants will help schools use data effectively to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap,” O’Connell said in a statement.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.