Section 52. The board shall establish an essential skills discretionary grant program. The board may make grant awards to school districts with high concentrations of low income students, high concentrations of students deficient in basic skills, or high concentrations of students likely to drop out of school, as determined by the board for basic skills remediation programs or dropout prevention programs. The board shall primarily use the statewide basic skills test results in determining recipients of essential skills grants under this section for basic skills remediation programs.
Basic skills remediation programs may provide supplemental instructional materials, additional teachers or teachers aides, counseling or guidance personnel, remedial instruction and tutoring, extended day tutorial programs, and enhanced instruction within the regular classroom and other classrooms to students in grades one through nine. Said board shall solicit proposals for the basic skills remediation program. Priority for such grants shall be given to individual districts containing one or more most-at-risk schools as defined by section forty-nine A which do not receive funding under chapter seventy A; provided, however, that the proposed program focuses on the most-at-risk schools. Applications shall include: a statement of need, of how funds will be targeted to students in need of basic skills remediation, and of how local efforts will be evaluated. School committees shall use the statewide basic skills test as part of their program evaluation but may use other criteria as well.
Dropout prevention programs may include counseling programs to improve school discipline, work-study or cooperative education, alternative education part-time employment and school-to-work transition programs. The board shall solicit proposals for dropout prevention programs for students in grades seven to twelve, inclusive. Applications shall include a statement of need, program objectives and implementation, program evaluations, and proposed linkages with business, labor, higher education and other agencies. Proposals which provide matching funds from local, federal and private sources shall be given priority. Each school committee applying for funds for a dropout prevention program shall appoint an advisory council comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and representatives of business, labor, higher education and other community agencies. Council members shall be broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the commonwealth. The advisory council shall assist in the development of the application proposal and in program implementation.
The board shall evaluate proposals, provide technical assistance. Programs and services provided under this section shall supplement, not supplant, programs and services provided under chapters seventy-one A, seventy-one B, and seventy-four. Seventy-five per cent of funds appropriated for the essential skills grant programs shall be allocated to the basic skills remediation programs, and twenty-five per cent of said funds shall be allocated to dropout prevention programs.