ST. FRANCISVILLE — West Feliciana Parish Superintendent Hollis Milton was part of a small group of Louisiana education officials traveling to Washington, D.C., recently in hopes of securing additional federal funding for the state.
The trip was likely a successful one.
Milton, who left for the nation’s capital March 28 and returned March 31, believes the trip accomplished more than its main objectives.
Milton, who is president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, joined officials from the Department of Education and representatives of St. Bernard and Assumption parishes on the trip.
The primary purpose was to secure additional funding for Louisiana for the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grants. SRCL grants aim to improve the reading and writing skills of students. Louisiana is one of six states that receive SRCL grant funding.
So far, Louisiana has received $30 million through the program, with West Feliciana getting $4 million beginning three years ago. However, the SRCL funding is scheduled to run out in September, and Louisiana has applied for a one-year extension. Part of the Louisiana delegation’s mission was to secure funding for the additional year, and Milton feels Louisiana — and West Feliciana — are in a good position to get extra funds.
“If we reapply (for the grant), we have an outstanding chance to get it,” Milton said. “One of the main reasons I went was for us to be approved. My confidence level that we will receive additional SRCL funding has been raised since I went.”
In addition to the extension, Milton said Louisiana will likely be among seven states that will be part of another pilot program that also focuses on student literacy.
“It’s like a new and improved SRCL grant called LEARN,” Milton said. “It will be funded with $190 million for five years, and we have a great opportunity to receive funds through this program, that’s like a SRCL 2.0. It’s an improved SRCL program. With three years of SRCL, the one-year extension and five years of LEARN, we could walk away with nine years of funding for literacy in our parish.”
Milton said Louisiana is in good shape to receive more funding through another pilot program that is designed to improve writing skills for students in all grades. He said the money would be allocated for each school district to use for teacher stipends to develop programs that improve writing skills.
“I’m optimistic we will get check marks in all three boxes for the funding,” Milton said. Not only was he part of the group that made the presentation in front of U.S. Department of Education officials, he said he may be invited back to Washington to serve on panels pertaining to the SRCL and LEARN grants and how to improve them for the future because they’ve been so successful in West Feliciana.
“I came away feeling very good for what we’re doing for education in our parish,” Milton said.