Students in several local school districts are going to have increased educational opportunities through a state grant secured by Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES.
BOCES has been awarded $618,009 from the state Education Department. The grant comes from NYSED's Virtual Advanced Placement program and is funded through federal Race to the Top dollars.
Ten school districts in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties will benefit from BOCES' VAP grant. The districts are: Chautauqua Lake, Dunkirk, Forestville, Frewsburg, Gowanda, Jamestown, Pine Valley, Sherman, Silver Creek and Westfield.
As part of the state's virtual learning initiative, the VAP program is intended to improve access to online and blended AP courses for low-income students. In doing so, it can increase the successful participation of these students in the Preliminary SAT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test and virtual learning AP courses and tests.
According to David O'Rourke, BOCES superintendent, the nature of the grant made BOCES a prime candidate for consideration.
"The (VAP) grant is built in a way that provided BOCES with a leg up on the competition," he said. "When the grant period is over, BOCES is in a unique position to share and facilitate services beyond the period of the grant window."
BOCES is a public education collaborative in New York state that functions as an extension of local school districts. A BOCES is able to provide services that school districts may be too small to provide on their own or that would be more economical to offer collaboratively, sharing costs with other school districts.
"This grant award will benefit students throughout the region by giving them opportunities that do not exist currently in their home school districts," said O'Rourke. "This program will blend virtual and classroom experiences for our students on the path to college. And this initiative will support the infrastructure and conversion of coursework to a blended instructional model, while scaling up regional virtual AP course offerings, coursework enrollment and successful course completion."
The goals of the program are to provide incentives for larger and more diverse groups of students to participate in virtual learning AP programs, and to increase the numbers of low-income and other disadvantaged students who receive AP credits.