Although its Safe Kids bond issue did not pass during the election in April 2016, Niangua R-V School District obtained something even better — a nearly $1 million community block grant through the 2016 Start Smart Program.
On Aug. 19, 2016, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon made a visit to the school district, where he announced that Niangua was one of five schools in the state to receive the grant. The program is designed to support the development, expansion and improvement of high-quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state. Through this initiative, the Missouri Department of Economic Development authorized $977,000 to the city of Niangua, on behalf of the Niangua School District, in order to expand and improve its early childhood development program.
These funds will be used to construct a 5,000-square-foot Early Childhood Education Center, which will increase the total available child care slots in the district to 60. The school district currently has its early childhood program in the FEMA building. Superintendent T.J. Bransfield came across the community block grant in March through his “Grant Siren” emails, which are automatic grant proposal emails that alert him to any government grants available.
Those who helped the school district write and organize the grant included Jacklyn Aldrich, a special education teacher at Chadwick High School who was assigned as grant administrator for the Niangua School District by the Missouri Department of Economic Development; the Niangua Board of Education; Mayor Tim Petty and the Niangua Board of Aldermen; and representatives from SAPP Design in Springfield.