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Grant will be used to buy books, books and more books at Mabton library

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Kathleen Leos (R) with the United States Department of Education was in Mabton yesterday (Thursday) to present an $83,639 No Child Left Behind grant to Artz-Fox Elementary School for use in the library. On hand to receive the check was Artz-Fox Principal Fabian Castilleja (C) and a classroom of fourth grade students.

MABTON - How much does $83,639 buy nowadays?

Well, Mabton's Artz-Fox Elementary School is hoping it will cover the cost of everything from enlarging its school library book collection to providing for professional development opportunities.

Thursday morning, Kathleen Leos, the associate deputy undersecretary and senior policy advisor to the Office of English Language Acquisition in the U.S. Department of Education, presented Artz-Fox Elementary School with a $83,639 No Child Left Behind grant. The grant funds will be used specifically for improving literacy through the school library.

Artz-Fox Librarian Kris Schilperoort explained that the funds can be used for a variety of things, ranging from extending the hours of the school library to upgrading technology in the facility.

However, the thing Schilperoort is most excited about is the prospect of being able to both update and enlarge the library's book collection. Currently standing at more than 16,000 pieces, including books and other mixed media, the collection contains battered paperback books and some non-fiction selections that could be updated. Schilperoort laughed, noting that the library has books about basketball that still show players running down the court in short shorts.

Schilperoort said she realizes there are books in the collection that should have been thrown out long ago, but getting riding of books is not something she is good at.

"I have a hard time because they're still really good stories," Schilperoort said. The last time the collection was cleaned out was more than five years ago.

Schilperoort said receiving the grant is going to require her to go through every shelf in the library and decide which books can stay and which will have to go.

Schilperoort said just because she decides books are too battered to stay in the collection doesn't mean that they won't be replaced. Instead, she said she is hoping to update a lot of the books that have been well read over the years. She noted that there are certain series the students can't get enough of, and those are the books she plans on replacing. Schilperoort said some of the popular books include selections from the Hank the Cowdog series, Junie B. Jones books and Harry Potter.

"They're just fun," Schilperoort said about the different series. "I would like to get them all in hard cover instead of paperback."

Schilperoort also talked about upgrading the technology in the library and maybe bringing in another computer. She added that another computer would mean increased access to Accelerated Reader tests, which students can take after reading a book off of the Accelerated Reader list. The computerized exams test a student's comprehension of the book they read.

When it comes to professional development, Schilperoort noted that there are several conferences she wouldn't mind attending. She said the conferences help point out ways librarians can help students with their literacy skills while in the library. She noted that the conferences also deal with updates in circulation systems, teaching librarians about the new technology added to the systems and how to best take advantage of them.

The Mabton School District wasn't the only local district to receive such a grant. Granger Middle School received a $48,120 grant. Together, the two grants represent only a small fraction of the $19 million in library grants that were awarded to 31 schools across the nation.

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