Community school initiative receives grant

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Central School District received a $3,000 grant from the Cloudsplitter Foundation to help with extracurricular, registration, licensing and equipment costs for students and family who need it.

“We applied to the Cloudsplitter to help fund students’ registration fees and equipment and materials that they might need to be able to participate,” said Erika Bezio, community school liaison. “If you register your child for basketball but you can’t necessarily afford a second set of shoes, because basketball requires an indoor set of sneakers, we could help you with the registration cost.”

The idea of a community school works under four pillars, Bezio said — one of those is expanded learning opportunities for students and families. Often, extracurricular activities do not come cheap, as registration, clothing and equipment costs compound. With this grant, the school district aims to provide financial support to those in need.

The grant will also help students access opportunities outside of school.

“We also thought about our older students,” Bezio said. “The cost of registering for a learner’s (driving) permit is over $100 by the time you register for the learner’s permit, the test, the actual license itself.”

Similarly, Bezio said she’s also looking to help out with hunting and fishing license fees for students who need it.

“Part of our mission as a foundation is to build stronger communities and make life better for the people that live here,” Cloudsplitter Director Chenelle Palyswiat wrote in an email. “Cloudsplitter is pleased to partner with SLCSD in this effort to help expand learning opportunities for our local youth beyond their classrooms. We hope that this grant will help ease financial hardships that can sometimes be associated with participating in such activities.”

The school district is also working to provide the other three pillars, Bezio said. These are collaborative leadership, family engagement and community opportunities.

“So health, mental, dental, physical health supports,” Bezio said. “The hygiene closet was part of all that. … It benefits everybody when we have everybody here at school. It benefits the kids to be at school; it benefits the parents for them to be in school.”

Outside of the $3,000 grant, Bezio said the school district is working with other charitable organizations, like the United Way and the Adirondack Foundation, to secure funding streams for the community school mission. The school district provides support through a student needs fund directly.

“This is immediate for those specific needs,” Bezio said. “I can help you with the registration if you can’t register your kid for swim lessons. I can help direct pay for you. So I would hope that we can help 100 families with registration. But it depends on where the need comes from.”

To access these funds, middle and high school students should ask their counselors and principals directly. Parents of elementary school students can contact their building administrators or classroom teachers.