Fairbanks school district awarded $2M in Department of Defense education grants

Inside the Gates
Fairbanks school district awarded $2M in Department of Defense education grants
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:02 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is bringing home a big grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

In September, the district was awarded a $2 million grant due to its large enrollment of military-connected students, according to officials at Fort Wainwright.

“Receiving the DoDEA Grant is essential to our military-connected students’ learning,” school liaison officer Janet Farris said in a press release. “Knowing that this grant will assist military-connected students in enhancing their reading skills is an extraordinary victory for the students, their families, and the school district.”

The district is home to around 2,200 military children who make up a significant part of the district’s 11,000 student enrollment — to put that in perspective, 1 in every 5 Fairbanks students has at least one parent serving in the military.

“I think being a military-connected student presents a number of challenges,” said the DoDEA’s Director of Communications Will Griffin.

Griffin added that this population of students faces struggles when parents deploy and have to endure frequent moves. The grant, he said, allows them to have a proper education and improve educational outcomes.

“Narrowing achievement gaps, providing access to academic programs that promote continuity of education for military-connected students who are a highly transient population,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the plan the district submitted will focus on reading and literacy.

“Will provide for interventions to address student achievement gaps in reading, provide for the hiring of some response to intervention, intervention assistance, and school improvement coordinators to address the supports required to improve literacy scores,” Griffin said. “The program will touch elementary students that had nine elementary schools across the district that have a military-connected student population that’s 10% or higher.”

District superintendent Luke Meinert expressed gratitude that more resources for military students will be made available thanks to the grant money.

“With the arrival of these new grant-funded team members, we are better equipped than ever to undertake this vital mission. These dedicated individuals will work alongside our existing team to ensure that our military-connected students receive the support and resources they need to excel academically,” Meinert said in a press release.

The DoDEA said the district grant is part of an overall $73 million funding effort for the 2023 fiscal year. Within Alaska, $500,000 in grant funding will also be provided to the Delta-Greely School District, which Griffin says they will put towards STEM education.

“So military-connected students are ready to move on and achieve their goals for college or careers,” Griffin said.

According to Griffin, the DoDEA is still in the process of releasing the grant money.