Belding High School funding larger course offering, advisor with grants

BELDING, Mich. -- While Belding Public Schools finalize their new mascot, Belding High School is earning grants to fund 'high-interest' electives, more advanced placement courses, and a college advisor costing the district little-to-nothing.

“The push is to have more high-interest electives, things that we believe students would be excited to take," said Michael Ostrander. “The science department wants to offer a fun chemistry class, so you’re doing experiments and trying new things.”

Ostrander tells FOX 17 they're adding courses across the spectrum, electives and advanced placement courses. From 'fun chemistry' to alternative English lit classes and fiber arts, he says the staff's flexibility will allow these electives on the schedule next year: instead of all semester-long courses some educators will teach nine-week electives.

"That’s kind of the exciting thing is we’re allowing teachers to make decisions impacting their class schedule for kids without involving a lot of the red tape and bureaucracy behind it," said Ostrander.

With 600 students Ostrander says their school offers the most advanced placement classes countywide and next year they're adding more, including A.P. biology and A.P history. Thursday he says they earned a grant that will fund the curriculum and teacher training for A.P. computer science.

“To be able to offer that essentially at no cost to our district I think is fantastic," Ostrander said, "and it’s a great opportunity for kids to learn coding, which I think is going to be something into the future that will be great for them.”

Then through a Michigan College Access Network grant and others, Ostrander says they will hire a full-time college advisor for the high school next year.

“I went out and pursued other grants to reduce the cost as well, so we’re going to get a full-time employee for about $2,000," he said. You can’t do that anywhere. And the service to our students is phenomenal.”

In total, Ostrander estimates they've earned more than $75,000 in grant money for the 2017-2018 school year. Programs already running, funded by grants, include the school's Success Center: after-school tutoring for students Monday through Thursday.

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