iTech Glades grant is ‘a rolling application’

MOORE HAVEN — Glades County Schools Superintendent Scott Bass told the assembled Hendry and Glades county commissioners last week that a grant applied for to finance more courses has become a five-county initiative but was not approved for the training center “this cycle.”

Mr. Bass said, however: “There’s $40 million for this year. This is a five-county initiative. We actually renamed the grant application; it’s iTech Glades, a five-county collaboration. And Collier is submitting the grant with the other school districts’ input. As soon as the grant became available, we applied or submitted the grant again.

He added that he recently met with Sen. Bill Montford (minority leader), and Ken Lawson, director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. Earlier, Hendry Superintendent Paul Puletti, Collier Superintendent Kamela Patton, Highlands Superintendent Brenda Longshore and Okeechobee Superintendent Ken Kenworthy had “cornered Mr. Lawson coming out of a speaking engagement in Tampa and made him see the five school districts that are working together for this project.”

Mr. Bass has spearheaded efforts to secure a grant for new educational courses and training at the Glades County Regional Training Facility, where the comimissioners met Wednesday night, Oct. 2. He said Sen. Montford and Mr.Lawson “felt we needed to do a little bit more. So the Glades County School Board has hired a consultant,” Megan Fay of Capital City Consulting.

Ms. Fay, he said, was on ex-Gov. Rick Scott’s staff “who wrote this job growth requirements.” He and Dorin Oxender, director of iTech, met with her to revamp the grant application using her feedback. DEO gave permission for that. Mr. Bass said the iTech project was high on the schools’ priority legislative action list as well as the counties’ and that the delegation was to meet the next day.

He noted that local legislators are aware of the grant request. “And it goes right in line with what the push is right now — technical education, CTE courses. We spoke with (Airglades International Airport LLC’s) Lillie Rodriguez a couple of weeks ago about how it could work with Airglades, too.”

Hendry County Commissioner Michael Swindle asked whether the timeline for when the Florida DEO will render a decision “is kind of open-ended?”

“The DEO does not have meetings with any of the governor’s staff for the next two weeks,” said Mr. Bass. “So our revisions on the grant will be submitted between now and then. Right now, the governor’s staff has not even communicated with DEO what exactly they are looking for.”

“So, it’s just a rolling, open application … Karson, no questions?” Mr. Bass concluded, causing a ripple of laughter around the room. Hendry County Commissioner Turner is known to always have questions.

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