FARMINGTON — Aztec schools will have extra money for professional development for teachers after an international oil company increased its annual grant to the school by 150 percent.
The Aztec Municipal School District received a $50,000 grant from BP America in December to encourage student achievement and increase professional development for teachers.
This is the third year of the partnership between BP and Aztec schools. The relationship started in the 2011-2012 school year. That year and last school year, BP donated $20,000 each year to the district.
This year's additional $30,000 will benefit students and teachers, said Kirk Carpenter, the district's superintendent.
"It's just awesome," Carpenter said. "It makes you celebrate what is right with the world."
Dave Brown, interim director of government and public affairs for BP America in the San Juan Basin, said the company is committed to contributing to school systems in communities. He said the funds will help the Aztec school district achieve goals that schools officials have discussed with BP representatives.
"It provides for professional development for teachers in promoting student achievement," Brown said.
The money will help pay for teacher development and fund the academic booster club.
Carpenter said that as state funding has decreased, the district has prioritized funds be spent in the classroom, and items like teacher development have been left behind.
One project Carpenter said the grant may support would be to bring in trainers to train kindergarten and first-grade teachers on specific reading curricula to improve students' ability to read.
The district is also looking at developing assessments to identify gaps in learning, which would help the district as it adjusts to the Common Core standards for state education.
"In Common Core, there is a lot more performance-based learning, instead of just receiving instruction," Carpenter said. "With new curriculum and new standards, there is no process in place to development assessments in that."
The academic booster club provides funding for Aztec teachers to develop and try projects in the classrooms they could otherwise not offer because of budget concerns.
The organization was established as part of the initial grant by BP in the 2011-2012 school year.
Teachers submit applications for funding to academic booster board members who approve or deny projects, including things like covering the expenses of trips to academic competitions and paying for additional classroom supplies.
"It will go a long way and touch a lot of kids, staff and build their learning," Carpenter said."