Sandusky Schools has secured a Straight A Fund innovation grant from the Ohio Department of Education.
It's the only district in the region — and one of just 34 across the state — to receive one of the highly competitive awards this year, according to the education department's website. Hundreds of schools applied for the grants.
Officials learned this week the district will receive nearly $500,000 to support their newly unveiled Transformation Plan, an overhaul of every aspect of day-to-day district operations, particularly academics.
The state grant will specifically support the restructuring of a Sandusky High School student's senior year with a "global experience."
Instead of taking classes, senior students will spend their final semester doing one of the following:
•Completing a local internship.
•Taking online college courses.
•Participating in a foreign exchange program.
All avenues will emphasize science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or "STEAM," according to the district's grant proposal.
The program will likely impact 750 students, and it will include partnerships with local businesses and organizations, as well as Bowling Green State University.
"It's amazing to see the Transformation Plan move from vision to reality through our success with the Straight A Fund," superintendent Eugene Sanders said. "This confirms to our faculty, staff and students that graduates from Sandusky High School will be able to compete with any student in the world."
Richard Ross, the state's superintendent, called Sanders on Tuesday to congratulate him, he said.
Sanders commended the work of the district's grant writing team, including chief academic officer Julie McDonald, high school principal Ted Caleris, high school assistant principal Eric Talbot, career and adult education director Nancy Zechman, and social studies teacher Robert Burch.
This is the second substantial grant for Sandusky Schools in the past year. The district received a grant of $1 million last August from the Dorn Foundation, a local nonprofit, in support of other academic initiatives.
Straight A Fund grants recognize innovative and creative ideas. Their amounts vary, and state officials are expected to officially approve the awards by mid-July.
The state will award nearly $150 million total to districts in the upcoming school year, which will be the second and final year of the program.
Kelleys Island School received a Straight A Fund grant this past school year for about $525,000. It used the fund to expand its summer field school programs, a project including nine partner schools across Ohio.
A document listing all of this year's grant winners is available below.