Huntington fails to win $11.6M grant for Jack Abrams STEM program

A file photo of a security officer in A file photo of a security officer in front of Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station. (April 20, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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The Huntington school district will not get an $11.6 million federal grant it sought to supplement the program at the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in Huntington Station.

The money applied for had been earmarked for such things as an extensive year-round STEM -- or science, technology, engineering and math -- program, district officials said. The money also would have paid for upgrades to the current lab, additional academic coaching positions, and extensive actual and virtual field trip opportunities, officials said.

"These things were not critical to the fidelity of the program," district Superintendent Jim Polansky said Tuesday. "The program, as it stands, is where we want it to be. We have the critical pieces."

The school reopened this fall to serve about 150 students in Grades 3 through 5. The building had been closed for instructional use in July 2010 after several instances of violence in the area. The building was reopened using about $240,000 in grants the district already had.

Rep. Steve Israel, who wrote a letter of support for the grant application, said he looked forward to finding alternative funding sources for the district.

Last week the U.S. Department of Education announced $89.8 million in Magnet School Assistance Program grants to 27 school districts in 12 states. Three districts in the New York City received awards.

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The award, which could have been between $1 and the requested amount, would have been payable over three years.

District officials said they are seeking three other "multimillion-dollar" federal grants as well as exploring the idea of getting corporate partnerships that would include grants, equipment and even personnel.

"When we decided to move forward with the program in July, we knew we had what we needed to start the program with fidelity, with integrity, without compromising the future of the program if a particular grant didn't come in," Polansky said. "We wouldn't have started the program if it had any bearing on the future of the program."

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Janelle Batts, who has a daughter in 4th grade at Jack Abrams, said she is not concerned that the grant did not come through.

"So far, my daughter has been doing great and having a good time and she loves the school," Batts said. "It would have been nice; we were hoping for some after-school programs especially, so the money probably would have been helpful. But if they can run a successful program, it doesn't really impact my family."

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