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School Board awaits word on Judy Center grant

October 15, 2000

School Board awaits word on Judy Center grant



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Education will find out on November 28 if it will receive a five-year, $2.2 million state grant to set up a center that would provide learning services to preschoolers and also offer adult literacy programs and family health services.

The facility, called a Judy Hoyer Family Learning Center, is named after Judith P. Hoyer, the late wife of Congressman Steny Hoyer. The Maryland Department of Education will award eight to 10 grants to the state's 24 school systems. The deadline for the grant was Oct. 13.

The Judy Center would be set up at Bester Elementary School, according to John Festerman, the Board of Education's director of elementary education. The state requires the centers to be located in easily accessible sites and near high concentrations of low-income or non-English speaking families, according to State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick.

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County Commissioners two weeks ago unanimously agreed to pay a salary of about $65,000 a year for five years for the center's project manager, if the county receives the grant. The Board of Education would fund the project manager's benefits package, Festerman said.

"It would certainly be an economic bargain for us," Commissioner John L. Schnebly said.

Festerman said the board has received support from local agencies, including the Washington County Community Partnership, in its push for the competitive grant.

"When a system shows support at the local level, it gives the grant more of a chance at succeeding," Festerman said.

The basic programs that could be offered at the Judy Center are pre-kindergarten, Head Start, Even-Start-Family Literacy Training, child care, family support centers, a health department, and services from the University Teacher Training Program, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Hoyer's office.

Additional programs that could be included in the center, depending on local community needs, are programs that teach foreigners English, basic computer training, parent and student counseling and adult basic education.

Festerman said he hopes the center can provide preschool to children who don't get into the Head Start program.

The grant would be funded from January 2001 to June 2002, with renewable one-year extensions until June 2005. The average grant amount would be $450,000 a year.

The 2000 Maryland General Assembly has set aside $4 million in the fiscal year 2001 budget for the centers. About $20 million would be set aside for the next five years.

The first Judy Center was dedicated in December in Prince George's County.

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