West Boulevard Elementary School has received a $525,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Elementary Education, a school official announced.
The grant will fund a mentor program for students at West Boulevard titled “Stand By Me: Sharing the Journey,” said Phyllis Chase, superintendent of Columbia Schools, at a Board of Education meeting Monday night.
MU’s Minority Men’s Network is also participating in the program. The network’s director, MU professor Jeffrey Williams, will recruit mentors for West Boulevard students at MU and in the Columbia business community.
“This grant was awarded the first time the application was made, and it suggests that even the federal government finds merit in the program,” Williams said.
Vickie Robb, principal of West Boulevard, said that she found out about the grant last week.
“We’re thrilled that we got it,” she said. “It’s set to run for three years.”
Also on Monday, the board discussed the possibility of installing artificial turf on the football fields at both Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. Jacque Cowherd, the deputy superintendent for administration, said that the proposal is tentative.
Cowherd also noted that the cost of installing the artificial turf is projected at $550,000. The normal grass fields costs $25,000 a year to maintain, not including personnel costs.
Bruce Whitesides, director of physical education and athletics, said both high schools are very interested in the possibility of artificial turf. “The quality of product involved, where safety is concerned, is comparable to grass fields on knees and ankles,” he said. “It’s better for impact on the new Astroturf or synthetic turf.”
The board raised concerns about funding and drainage. Board member Donald Ludwig remarked that he would “sure miss football in the mud.”
— Missourian reporter Jack Beeson contributed to this report.