EL CENTRO – Students and staff of the Ballington Academy for the Arts and Sciences were in for a treat Friday morning when State Sen. Ben Hueso presented the school with over $43,000 in Charter School Facility Grants, and the additional surprise of money for a new piano.
The Charter School Facility Grant Program is a noncompetitive program that provides assistance with fthe rental costs and lease expenditures for charter schools that meet specific eligibility criteria. The grant program was enacted in 2001 to reimburse charter schools for rental and lease costs in low-income areas, and is targeted toward schools and communities with high proportions of economically disadvantaged students.
Ballington Academy for the Arts and Science received a total of $46,196, of which $43,196 was state grant funding, and the remaining $3,000 was donated by the senator himself. The funds will go towards facility improvements, lease expenses, and a piano.
“It is with great honor that I present over $46k dollars to Ballington Academy,” said Hueso. “I am thrilled that this funding will improve the learning environment for the students. Our children can continue to learn in a comfortable setting and take advantage of the arts and science programs increase their foundation of learning.”
“I am a musician myself. I like to sing and I love music,” said Hueso. “I see you guys have a great piano here, but I want to get you an acoustic piano, so I am chipping in an additional $3,000 for the acoustic piano for the program and hopefully, you will have a really nice piano here so you can learn to play.”
Sen. Hueso said when he was informed the school did not have an acoustic piano, he could not believe it and decided he would fund the money for its purchase.
“I thought it was an absolute necessity for the program to have an acoustic piano,” he said.
Ballington Academy Principal William Anderson said Sen. Hueso’s visit was very important to the school and students, and said was grateful for the funds that were made available thanks to the efforts of the senator.
Hueso also took the opportunity to speak to the students about the importance and benefits of reading and staying in school.
“Reading is very important, and we need you (students) to put extra attention to reading. California produces many opportunities, but not for people who don’t know how to read. Reading will open up a world of opportunities for you to achieve all of your personal goals.”
“It is a very exciting moment for our school to have Sen. Hueso here,” said Director Doreen Multz.
Hueso also received a surprise by a group of sixth grade students who sang “Stand by Me” prompting him to jump from his seat and accompany them by playing the piano.
“I support having diverse programs,” said Hueso. “All people are different and have different interests and skill sets. We need a diverse educational environment to make sure no kid is overlooked and that all kids have a place to go develop their talents. I don’t think we invest enough in providing the educational amenities for our children.”
Ballington Academy was founded in 2009 and currently educates close to 300 students from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. All students, regardless of their grade, participate in music and arts.