Los Banos Unified boosts eligibility for scholarships

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comAugust 19, 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 scholarship program does not dwindle.

The district's board of trustees recently approved a scholarship for graduating seniors that takes financial "need" into account. The scholarship also will be 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 higher 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 higher.

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 fund. Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the fund has about $70,000 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.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be made by calling Mary Cotta at (209) 826-3801, ext. 1015, or through the school district office at 1717 S. 11 St.

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