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Grant offer to schools runs short on takers

More than $10,000 in grant money for classroom projects in Pinellas County schools could go unclaimed.

The grant money is available through the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) for environmental projects in the public schools. The deadline for teachers to apply was Friday, but that has been extended until Nov. 7.

Nine applications for about $34,000 worth of projects have been received. That leaves almost $15,000 more available. Last year when the application process was completed, the district had more money than applications, said Beth Bartos, Swiftmud's education coordinator.

"We have the money available, and we want to make sure it gets in the hands of the teachers, where it's supposed to be," she said.

Each teacher can apply for up to $1,000 for projects that promote environmental awareness and preservation of water resources. The grants are available to teachers in all subjects, and group projects are encouraged, said Bob Orlopp, the secondary science supervisor for the school district.

Among this year's applications is one from Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg for $10,000 to create an outside study area. It involves 23 teachers in science, math, language arts, social studies, reading and exceptional education.

"Water issues are interdisciplinary in nature," Orlopp said. "They conveniently fit under the umbrella of science, but they are also social issues, and communication is involved."

Another application is for $869 from Calvin Hunsinger Exceptional Education Center in Clearwater to create an environmental newspaper called Splash.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for teachers to have resources that normally would be beyond the school budget," Orlopp said.

The grant money is for use during the spring semester. Applications are available in the schools, Orlopp said, or teachers can call him at 588-6075.