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Fairbanks borough schools get $3M to help military families

Posted September 20

— The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has received $3 million in federal grants to support the expansion of its resources for students in military families.

The district will use the two grants, which both total $1.5 million, to fund initiatives known as "Project 360" and "Basic Training 1-1."

The money from the Department of Defense Education Association will be administered over a five-year period, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/2cVqKQT ) Monday.

The basic training program targets first-, second- and third-graders at five schools. The district's Heather Rauenhorst said those students will receive iPads to assist in their education and teachers will be trained on implementing the devices in the classroom.

"Using iPads can help students catch up quicker or, if they're advanced students, allow the teacher to give them enrichment activities and opportunities for advanced work, basically to differentiate the instruction in the same classroom," Rauenhorst said.

The funds to support the use of the electronic devices were issued to the district last year, but the Department of Defense grant requires a one-year planning period before the iPads are distributed to students.

"The staff, they need and deserve time to work with the technology," Rauenhorst said. "The kids will pick them up and just go."

First-grade teachers at Ladd, Anderson, Crawford, Arctic Light and Badger Road elementary schools received training last spring that will allow their students to start using iPads this fall. Second-grade teachers will receive training this year.

The federal grant to support Project 360 was accepted by the school board at its most recent meeting.

It is aimed at helping schools that will receive more students when two squadrons of F-35 jets arrive at Eielson Air Force Base, along with more than 2,700 airmen, civilians, contractors and family members. That's expected to increase school enrollment by 2.8 percent.

The Project 360 money will be used to provide teachers at 10 schools with professional development and to create a districtwide coordinator position to better serve students from military families.

"We want to be able to better identify those needs, have someone whom the school staff can just reach out to and say, 'Is there someone or someplace we can go to get this student's needs met?'" Rauenhorst said.

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