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$6 million in federal money flowing into Clayton County

By Johnny Jackson

Clayton County will receive almost $6 million in federal money that will go to three separate programs.

The $5,921,752 comes from grants from the Department of Education, Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Congressman David Scott made the announcement.

"I am pleased to share this great news with residents of Clayton and Henry Counties," Scott said. "Each of these grant awards represent my continued efforts to bring more money back from Washington to the Thirteenth District to support a high quality of life for all of our residents."

Clayton County Public School received a grant worth $999,998 for teacher instruction on American history.

Michael Powell, coordinator of secondary social studies for Clayton County Schools, co-authored a proposal to obtain under the Education Department's Teaching American History Grants Program.

The program should help increase traditional American historical knowledge and appreciation in teachers and students, Powell said.

He called the program "the Transformation of America: 1945 to 2000 with an Emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement."

The three-year grant, beginning this October, will continue through Sept. 30, 2008. During this time, the school system will partner with Georgia State University, Morehouse College, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, the National Archives Southeast Region, and the Atlanta History Museum for studies of recent American histories through historical and primary source records.

Powell helped Bob DeLuca, coordinator of elementary social studies, write the grant proposal.

"We're very proud that we are one of the systems selected nation-wide to implement this program," DeLuca said. "We put a lot of time and effort into it."

Powell said the county will spend $307,085.55 this year, beginning next summer when some 77 social science educators for the fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades will attend seminars at the county's various partner institutions.

"It will take a three-year commitment on the part of teachers," he said. "Teachers will go to summer seminars at the institutions to research and produce authentic less plans from lectures of historians and field experiences. They'll use the national archives extensively.

"I think the most important thing was the focus of this particular time in American history. We decided to focus on the Civil Rights movement and primary source documents, first-hand accounts.

"I had an excellent teacher in high school who inspired me to learn about the past and taught me how everything that happens affects something else," he said. "The students play a vital role in the process. It's crucial that kids understand all the different fabrics and structures that make up America. I think it will be a good thing among all the kids because it will be infectious," he said. "Our ultimate goal is student achievement on standardized tests."

Powell said the highlight of the program is a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. to enhance the teachers' final projects.

"Teaching social sciences is my vocation," DeLuca said. "I think it's important for students to know about government and how it affects their everyday life.

"The bottom line is to increase content knowledge and the instruction of teachers so that they can impact the learning and achievement of the students."

The county also received $1,006,091 from HUD in the HOME Program to expand the supply of affordable housing, particularly for Clayton County residents.

Craig Goebel, the director the Clayton County Housing and Community Development Program, appreciated the grant restating the county's needs.

"Habitat builds new houses, and rehabilitates substandard houses," Goebel said. "We've got a lot of substandard housing in the area. And we're trying to help families improve their housing situation and create new affordable housing."

Also, $106,167 was awarded to the county through the Department of Justice's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to purchase a crime analysis and police management system entitled "COMPSTAT".

About $2,374,603 was awarded through the HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to develop and expand viable economic opportunities.

The HUD also awarded $79,803 from its Emergency Shelter Grant Program to improve the quality and number of emergency homeless shelters in the county.

The Jonesboro Housing Authority was awarded $51,130 under HUD's Capital Fund Program for modernization, development and management improvements. Whereas, HUD awarded $45,461 to the county under its American Dream Down-payment Initiative to promote home ownership by providing resources for down-payment and closing assistance for low income and minority families.