MICHIGAN CITY | School officials in Michigan City are ecstatic that a $1.1 million federal grant was approved to continue an after school program serving some 1,000 mostly at-risk students.
There were fears the funds wouldn't come in this year due to federal budget cuts and other districts being turned down for dollars.
"We were sweating bullets," said Herb Higgin, director of the school corporation's Safe Harbor program.
Higgin said Safe Harbor has offered tutoring and mentoring after school since 1998, along with similar programs during the summer. Safe Harbor is housed in several of the 14 school buildings in the corporation including Pine Elementary and Michigan City High School. Children from other schools are bused to those locations.
"We're really proud of that program. It means a lot to the kids and their families," said Michigan City School Board president Don Dulaney.
Higgin said the recently awarded four-year grant serves 235 people. Another three-year federal grant for $1.6 million set to expire next year serves 750 children. Higgin said federal dollars make up 92 percent of the operating budget for Safe Harbor while private donations cover the balance of the annual expenses.
The recent grant is about $300,000 short of what's usually received, but Higgin said efforts will be made to increase private contributions to avoid cutbacks. Had none of the grant money been awarded, Dulaney said deep cuts in the program would have resulted.
The school corporation contributes no tax money to Safe Harbor and is limited in what it might be able to do because of budget constraints.