Science rules. Free money, too.

Ocean Beach School District is the recipient of four grants this school year, one of which will be a $714,730 renovation of Ilwaco High School’s science facilities.

The grants were won by Amy Huntley, who serves as the district’s director of student learning and principal of Ocean Beach Alternative School.

“School districts don’t have a lot of money so it’s always nice when we can find something to supplement and make really exciting things happen for the kids,” Huntley said. “These seemed like grants that would be worth the work for our students.”

The four grants include the science renovation, bicycles and equipment, and curriculum additions for middle and high school students.

“There is strong competition for such state grants,” said Scott Fenter, interim OBSD superintendent. “Huntley’s leadership has given this district opportunities that will be a lasting benefit to students in lifelong learning.”

STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics)

The high school will benefit from a STEM Capital Grant, which will provide the school money to construct science classrooms and labs.

“The grant will provide our students with state of the art science facilities,” Fenter said.

IHS science facilities will be modernized through the grant award. The school currently has two small and large science classrooms. The two small classrooms will be combined into one, creating three classrooms. Sunroom space will also be created for students to participate in agriculture projects.

All of the classrooms will get upgraded plumbing, electrical, security and air conditioning, Huntley said. The floors of the classrooms will also be upgraded from asbestos tile to polished concrete.

Each classroom will get new lab equipment, Huntley said.

“It’s exciting that we’re going to have better equipment and facilities for future students,” Huntley said. “When the kids heard about it, the seniors were pretty bummed because they weren’t going to be there for it.”

The district is working on an RFQ for a project engineer, Huntley said. Once that person is hired, the hope is that work gets started once the school year is over so most work can be completed by next school year, Huntley said.

One of the grant’s requirements was that districts contribute $100,000 to be added to the grant money. Ocean Beach Education Foundation is partnering with OBSD through a $100,000 contribution. The total amount of award money is $714,730.

“Ocean Beach Education Foundation stepped up and agreed to partner with us on this,” Huntley said. “Without them we couldn’t have done this.”

Bicycles

The district also was awarded the Safe Routes to School grant, which provides the district bicycles, helmets and a covered trailer to store and haul everything.

“Our students can use these to learn the importance of safety and healthy exercise in an ideal setting to use them,” Fenter said.

Huntley hasn’t learned yet how much grant money will be awarded for the district to purchase the bicycles and supplies. She expects to have an answer soon, she said.

“I’m hoping they’ll be here for spring for use,” Huntley said. “We have so many people who bike on the roads and don’t always know how to do it safely.”

Teachers will get curriculum and professional development through the grant.

“The whole focus of the grant is teaching road safety,” Huntley said. “It’s not just to get kids biking, it’s to get kids to understand bike safety and how to bike on roads. A lot of people bike down here so we really fit the profile of a school district that needs this.”

Other grants

Other grants the district were awarded include the Botvin Lifeskills Training Curriculum and Academic Youth Development grants.

The Botvin curriculum is an addition to Hilltop Middle School’s health curriculum.

Students learn about substance abuse and violence prevention, mental health, and self esteem through the program.

Teachers completed curriculum training in early December and will likely start using the curriculum this month, Huntley said.

“There aren’t very many curriculum grants out there so it’s always exciting when you get one,” Huntley said. “This one is a good supplement for our curriculum.”

The Academic Youth Development grant is being used in the high school’s freshman advisory program. Teachers were trained on how to implement the curriculum last summer and started using the program this school year.

The school will use the curriculum for four years and report data on its success, Huntley said.

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or aevans@chinookobserver.com

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