Helena approves grant for up to $60,000 for teachers

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – The Helena City Council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Brian Puckett to use the city’s 1-cent fund for up to $60,000 for the TAG Team Grant, which will put money directly into the city’s schools.

TAG, Teachers Assistance Grant, was created by Puckett as a way to use funds from the city’s 1-cent fund to put money directly into the city’s classrooms to help teachers with things that they might normally have to come out-of-pocket to purchase.

“This is a way to use our 1 cent fund as a way to give back and put funds into the teacher’s classrooms, directly into their hands,” Puckett said. “So, this is a process to allow teachers to be able to get funds directly to what they need for special projects or other things.”

Puckett said that the process for the fund will have teachers submit an application that has already been sent out with the name of their school, how many students they have and a brief description of how much money they need and why they need it.

“The fund will be a total of $60,000 with a cap of $5,000 per teacher for up to 15 teachers,” Puckett said. “At the second council meeting in April we will award the teachers with the grant money for their projects.”

“That is big in this town when you think of all the money that gets spent on other things, if we can put this money into the hands of teachers that have great ideas but no funding,” said Helena City Councilperson Chris VanCleave. “I am very glad to see that come forward to this council and very proud to have passed with a yes vote.”

In approving the measure, city officials hope to alleviate the financial burden on local educators and free them up to provide an even better educational experience for students in the schools.

“That fund has been used for so many great things in our schools,” said Helena City Councilperson Leigh Hulsey. “I don’t know that I can think of a better way to spend that money. Teachers have been coming out-of-pocket a lot more often for things that they were already coming out-of-pocket for.”

Puckett said the program was created after talking with Helena Elementary School Principal Mary Anderson about the school system’s needs.

“I am really excited to get this off the ground,” Puckett said. “We plan to do this twice a year with varying amounts of funds available depending on the needs of our teachers.”