Schools get a funding boost from tribal grants
ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County school districts, as well as Pinconning Area Schools, received a combined total of $223,857 from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s latest 2-percent grant distribution May 30.
Arenac Eastern received the largest share of that money, getting a grant for $78,677 from the tribe to be split among 12 different projects. The largest of these is $35,522 for an elementary-age reading program, while another $15,000 was awarded for computer upgrades in the middle and high school computer lab.
The school also received $12,000 for its online classes initiative, with additional funds going toward field trips, website hosting and classroom materials.
Guidance Counselor Allen Pauly said the money has a positive and direct impact on the students, referencing the tale of an AE alumni who recently returned to visit.
“He graduated college in four years, and I congratulated him and said that not many people can do that these days,” Pauly said. “He said it was thanks to the 22 credits he had from the dual enrollment program sponsored by the tribe.”
“It’s a troubled time for schools, and it’s hard to fund the initiatives we want to do, and how to do it,” he continued. “The answer is from these tribal grants.”
Au Gres-Sims received $49,830 from the tribe for nine projects. More than half of that money, $27,000, is earmarked to bring wireless internet to the school district, though Principal Chad Zeien spoke primarily about the $8,403 being used to improve school security.
“We know this can help parents feel better sending their kids to our school district,” Zeien said. “There’s a lot of money going into that.”
Superintendent Jeff Collier said AGS is among the lowest-funded school districts in the state, and the grants help bring cutting-edge educational equipment to the school. The rest of the district’s grant money would go toward educational website licenses, a book checkout system for students, iPads for the kindergarten and special education, and funding for the school’s science olympiads.
Standish-Sterling was given $47,799 from the tribe. The largest amount — $12,600 — will purchase an e-Beam interactive system, a device that allows any flat surface to be used as an interactive computer screen. Another $12,000 will go toward Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying and anti-school violence campaign.
SSC students will also get Qwizdom remotes to add more interactivity and instant feedback for teachers’ quizzes and questions, thanks to $2,395 in grant money. The school also received $5,000 for digital school bus cameras and another $5,000 for AP assessments. The school is also getting iPads for special needs students, flags, scholastic reading and math programs, and funding a visit by the Acting Up Theater Company.
Standish-Sterling Middle School Principal Gary Roper talked about how projects that teachers once used paper materials for could now be done with new technology using interactive whiteboards and videos, thanks to the money the tribe provides.
Pinconning received $47,550 to split among four projects. The major project is getting new stadium lighting for the school’s track and football field with a grant for $20,054, Superintendent Mike Vieau said.
The school will be using $10,296 for presentation carts and another $4,200 for technology enters for the elementary “Daily Five” reading program, which uses the web and other technology to help kids improve their reading skills. The remaining $13,000 goes toward the school’s Spartan Buddies program.
Vieau also took the opportunity to show the tribe the school’s thanks by giving Tribal Council Chief Dennis Kequom Sr. a metallic eagle sculpture that the school’s industrial arts students created.