As the 2013-2014 school year begins, educators across the state will have a little extra funding to help students do their best.

School districts across the state are on the receiving end of nearly $1.5 million in grant money distributed by the state Department of Education.

The department had encouraged educators to submit proposals of programs and ideas that they thought students needed the most.  

Education Secretary Mark Murphy today announced the state was able to provide 14 grants to programs that he said will have the biggest impact on students.

The Department of Education will work with the schools throughout the year to monitor the progress of the programs.

“We are orienting ourselves to a new way of funding,” Murphy said. “As we fund things, we want to learn from them. So, in other words, we don’t just hand out funding and walk away from it. We give out funding to people who think are going to do great work for kids and then we make a real commitment to learn from it and frankly to hold ourselves accountable for the outcomes.”

Murphy said the money has come from grants monies that come to the department each year for improvement efforts.

“Over the years, these have been used for a variety of different things,” Murphy said. “We thought the most impactful thing would be to allow our educators, allow our districts to name what were the biggest needs that they had.”

The largest grant, $600,000 is going to the BRINC (Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts) consortium.

“These four districts came together almost a year ago and they started to have really robust conversations about what the future of learning needs to look like, especially in our middle and high schools,” explained Murphy. “They started to have conversations that our students need a more personalized experience.”

Each district will receive $150,000 for the Link to the Future program which will help students receive more personalized data about their school progress and learning goals.

“This will include such opportunities as distance learning, online courses, and dual enrollment opportunities with higher education,” explained Dr. Mark Holodick, superintendent of the Brandywine School District. “This blended learning environment is enticing to students on many levels, one of which is that it empowers students to master material in a manner and at a pace that best suits their learning style. We are grateful to the secretary and department for their support.”

The grant will serve 10 high schools and 25 percent of high school students in the state.

Some of the other grants went toward technology upgrades, SAT prep and science projects.

The complete list of grant recipients is available through the Department of Education’s website.