School district receives $1.6 million to enhance academic program in Ferriday

Published 11:44 am Friday, March 11, 2022

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FERRIDAY, La. — The Concordia Parish School District has been awarded approximately $1.6 million to enhance the Freshman Academy program in Ferriday.

School Superintendent Toyua Watson said the district was awarded a competitive grant from the Mississippi Department of Education totaling $660,000 to help address student achievement gaps at Ferriday High School.

During the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, Watson said an additional $1 million was awarded to be spent for a pilot program called “Star Academy” which will be implemented at the Freshman Academy in Ferriday.

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These funds will be used for all of the academy’s needs, from hiring staff to providing instructional materials and desks, she said.

These grants help all Concordia Parish schools and not just Ferriday, Watson said to school board members during their Thursday meeting.

“While it is for Ferriday, a grant of this magnitude is beneficial to all schools because the money we don’t spend goes right back into our budget,” she said.

She added the school district is looking at leveraging ESSER funds to enhance vocational opportunities, potentially with agriculture and welding programs in Monterey and Vidalia.

The Star Academy program provides targeted instruction to at-risk students who would benefit from it the most. In Louisiana, there are only five of these programs recently launched by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Watson said she and a few teachers and administrators plan to start right away planning for the new academy by visiting an existing one in Mobile, Alabama next week.

New furniture to flip the classrooms for the academy at Ferriday High School is expected to be delivered next month, she said.

Another $250,000 grant was also awarded to the school district to help them enhance student literacy at all schools, Watson said.

“We’re extremely blessed,” she said of the grants awarded to Ferriday High School. “For eight years, our Ferriday schools have suffered and not had the high-performance scores that other schools in our district have had. While this isn’t new, this goes to show that as a district, we’re willing to do something about it.”