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School board gets grant

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
The Escambia County Board of Education has received a federal grant in the amount of $31,234 to fund a Suspension Deferral Program.
The pilot program means that administrators at W.S. Neal High School will have the option to assign students to community service on Saturdays rather than suspending them during the school week.
Administered through ADECA's Division of Law Enforcement, Traffic and Safety Division, the grant begins on March 1 and is renewable for three years.
The Escambia County School Board went through a highly competitive grant process and was one of two programs out of nine to be granted an award, said Donna Revel, attendance and community education coordinator for the county school system.
The school board has partnered with RSVP, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, local food banks and the area vocational school to coordinate this program with community service and community education projects already in place.
Students will be assigned a certain number of hours of community service and they will work with a job coach hired by the county after school and on Saturdays.
One of the main benefits of the program is that kids at risk of failure due to suspensions and unexcused absences will receive educational services in a classroom setting.
Revel expects the program to lessen their chances of failing, keep kids out of the court system and make them productive citizens.
Working with Sheri Cox, Escambia County Schools youth empowerment coordinator, and District Judge David Jordan, Revel plans to start the program March 1, just in time for Community Education Month.