School district awarded $750,000 to help military-connected students

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FLEMING ISLAND – The Department of Defense Education Activity awarded the Clay County School District with a $750,000 grant that will help it continue its financial help in educating military-connected students in public schools.

This grant will help military family students become more college and career ready, according to Superintendent Addison Davis, who announced the news during the regular school board meeting held Nov. 7. This money will specifically go toward continuing STEAM and STEM initiatives.

“(The) $750,000 will come to Clay County and this is really to help students of military families become college and career ready through STEAM and STEM initiatives,” Davis said. “This money will be used to help us do particularly great things in all of our schools that qualify to continue to help our students learn.”

The DDEA began its grant program in 2008 after the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 was put into motion. This act gave the DoDEA the authority to share resources with public schools that educate military-connected families, according to the official DDEA website. DDEA says the grant funds are for research-based strategies that enhance student achievement and ease the challenges that military children face due to their parents’ military service.

The DDEA grant wasn’t the only financial award the school district received Thursday night. Davis announced to the public that Clay County had been awarded funding for Dark Fiber infrastructure work. Dark Fiber refers to extra optic cables underground for internet that are currently unused by internet providers. These providers lease these unused cables out to clients to allow those clients to gain access to extremely fast fiber internet speeds.

The first commitment from this award was for $38,760. Funding is released by calendar year so it’s unknown just how much will be received. It’s predicted that it will take 18 months to get the school district online with these dark fiber internet speeds, but if complications arise from unforeseen underground obstacles, it could take up to three years.

Schools will go live with this new internet as phases are complete so even if the entire project takes three years, many schools will have already been live with the dark fiber internet.

In other business, the Clay County School Board selected its chair and vice chair, a vote that happens each year. The current chair, Carol Studdard, was re-elected as chair with 3-2 vote. Board members Janice Kerekes and Tina Bullock dissented. Council member Mary Bolla was elected vice chair with a 3-2 vote, with Kerekes and Bullock dissenting.

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