Scholarship eligibility guidelines changing for district students

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comAugust 15, 2013 

The Los Banos Unified School District is expanding eligibility for scholarship recipients and trying to determine the best way to make sure funding for the program does not dwindle.

The district's board of trustees recently approved a scholarship for graduating seniors that takes financial "need" into account. The new scholarship will also be made available to students whose post-secondary education will be at a community college or trade school.

Previously the district awarded four scholarships, two at Los Banos High School and two at Pacheco High School, based on academic performance, school and civic activities, and good citizenship.

"When I was picked for the scholarship committee this year I didn't realize it was strictly based on grades," school board trustee Carole Duffy said. "Some students may not have a 4.0 and have a financial need, I don't think they should be overlooked."

Duffy said the applicants for the 2012-2013 scholarships all had GPAs greater than 4.0. She said the new scholarship, which will be awarded to one student at each high school, requires applicants to have a GPA of 3.5 or greater.

Trustee Tommy Jones said he likes that students will be able to attend a vocational school or community college and still be eligible for the scholarship.

"There is a great need for kids in community college and vocational programs," Jones said. "They contribute just as much to society as kids from four-year universities."

The Los Banos Unified School District's scholarship fund was established in 1991. The amount awarded to students each year is contingent upon how much money is contributed to the scholarship fund. Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the fund has about $70,000 in it and has been increasing slowly through interest payments. Last year four students were each awarded $1,000 scholarships.

The scholarship committee is discussing asking teachers to voluntarily donate money to the fund until it reaches $100,000. Jones and Duffy said they support the idea as long as teacher contributions are voluntary.

"I think that's a great idea," Jones said. "It's easy to say kids are our future, but we really need to back it up."

Jones also proposed an alternative way to increasing the scholarship fund. He said he would like to attend Golden Agers dinners and ask the elderly if they would like to contribute.

"I want to go to senior citizens and ask them to step up," he said. "There are so many seniors with nobody to leave their homes to. This way they can help the youth."

The scholarship committee is expected to recommend a way to increase the scholarship fund at next month's school board meeting.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be made by calling Mary Cotta at 826-3801, Ext. 1015 or writing the school district office, 1717 S. Eleventh St.

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