School library vying for share of $200k in prize money

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FARMINGTON — Bloomfield High School’s library is soliciting votes for a grant application and challenge in which community votes count for 20 percent of the final decision.

The school library is participating in the 2017 Follett Challenge — a grant contest that puts school programs to the task of showing their impact on students and demonstrating how much support they have from the community — through its Need to Read campaign, according to school librarian Laurie Treat.

“It’s not a grant of need. It (asks) ‘What is your program, and how well have you supported what you’ve been doing? What evidence do you have?’” Treat said of the challenge.

Treat said the school started the Need to Read campaign last year because of the school's “really low" scores on reading comprehension in the PARCC test. One in four Bloomfield students reads at a proficient level, according to the school’s 2017 report card, which takes into account PARRC tests, standard based assessments for Spanish speakers and the New Mexico Alternate Performance Assessment.

The Need to Read program encourages students to read, not only to benefit their test scores, but to make them more curious learners, as well, Treat said.

“Our hope is — and for a lot of students, once they take the time to get involved with reading — that they do benefit from it intrinsically,” Treat said.

Students and staff members involved in the campaign volunteered to help make a video for the application, Treat said. Follett Challenge judges will evaluate the video and a written application that Treat submitted, but community support also plays a role in the challenge — online voting accounts for 20 percent of the final decision, according to the challenge website.

Challenge winners will split $200,000 in prize money, according to the website. The grand-prize winning program will earn $60,000 in Follett's educational products, services and technology. Three semifinalists in elementary, middle and high school will win $30,000, and 10 people’s choice programs will receive $8,000.

Treat said if Bloomfield wins, the school will use the funds to establish and build collections by Native American and Spanish-speaking authors.

The challenge results will be announced in the spring, Treat said.

Voting for the community-supported grant closes at midnight on Friday, and people can cast one vote each day. More information is available at follett challenge.com/videos/1024.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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