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VVUHSD earns $15 million Community Schools grant for students in need

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( — An idea that led to millions of dollars in funding for local students started with a simple necessity: tissues.

In 2022, Adelanto High School teacher Fran Herdlein spoke at a Victor Valley Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting about the need for certain supplies and services, and he knew of a possible way to get the funding: a Community Schools grant from the California Department of Education.  

Nearly two years later, VVUHSD has been awarded a grant of nearly $15 million that will serve a variety of needs for students and families at middle and high schools across the Victor Valley.

“It started with the need for tissues and proper sanitary supplies in classrooms,” said Herdlein, who has taught social studies at Adelanto High for a dozen years. “The COVID funds somehow missed tissues.”

The effects of the new funding, however, will reach far beyond sanitary supplies. Grant dollars can provide a number of services for students in need, including food, clothing, dental services, hearing tests, vision tests, eyeglasses, and more. Students at eight VVUHSD schools will be eligible for the assistance.

“Now the heavy lifting starts because we have to put into practice what we wrote in the grant application,” Herdlein said, adding that the district will “find community partners who can provide services that are lacking for our students and their families.”

Herdlein is quick to point out that this was not a solo effort. The VVUHSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Carl Coles were on board with Herdlein’s suggestion and took action, forming a committee that hammered out the details of the grant proposal and submitted the successful application.

(Members of the community schools committee were recognized at the most recent Victor Valley Union High School District Board Meeting after the district received a multimillion-dollar grant to assist local students in need.)

“It’s really a mindset where it puts the whole child first,” Coles said as he announced the grant award at the most recent VVUHSD board meeting. “Research shows that a well-implemented community schools program leads to an improvement in student outcomes including attendance, academic achievement, graduation rates, and advanced equity. We applaud California for making this significant investment into our schools, but the heart and soul of this initiative was a team that created this vision. It goes beyond the mindset that our job is just to teach reading, writing, and math; it’s much deeper than that.”  

VVUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Ratmony Yee, Director of Student Services Tiffany Hampton, California School Employees Association Chapter 243 President Tanya Martin, Victor Valley Teachers Association President Mike Mayo, and Herdlein formed the core of the committee, which also included staff members, students, parents, and community members including NAACP Victorville Chapter President James Campbell and former NFL running back Greg Bell with his Athletes for Life Foundation. The committee began meeting again this week to develop strategies for spending the funds.

Herdlein believes the program can create a ripple effect that goes far beyond the classroom.

“It’s not just providing the student with something, but also bringing their family into the fold,” Herdlein said. “In the long run, you educate the student, you give the family what they need to excel, you create a solid base, and the whole community then changes.”

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