Macon has missed out on as much as $60 million in federal and matching funding through a federal Promise Neighborhoods grant.
Macon was not one of the seven winners of implementation grants announced Friday morning by the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier, Macon had gotten a $500,000 planning grant for the program, and work is under way to rebuild the former Ballard-Hudson Middle School to support the efforts.
Some of the programs dozens of partners said theyll try again for another grant and will continue helping the neighborhood as much as they can.
This train has left the station, and we are committed to this neighborhood and the four schools in this neighborhood, and youll see great things, said Cliffard Whitby, executive director of Macon Promise Neighborhoods.
Whitby noted that Macon was rejected on its first bid for a planning grant, but got it on its second try. He said he expects a similar thing will happen with the implementation grant.
Ron Collier, the Bibb County school systems former chief financial officer, sued the district Thursday, saying his questions about a $1 million invoice for Promise Neighborhoods got him investigated and shuffled from a corner office to a room in the back of a warehouse with ambiguous responsibilities.
The signer of that invoice, Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development board President Jimmie Samuel, did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday. Whitby said the school systems money is for the bond transaction that will renovate the Promise Center at 1780 Anthony Road.
About 35 agencies are working on the Promise Neighborhood program in an area that includes Ingram-Pye Elementary, Hartley Elementary, Ballad-Hudson Middle and Southwest High schools, which are among the lowest-performing schools in Bibb County. The implementation grant money would have been used to help provide wraparound services for children, such as tutoring, psychological counseling, and health and safety services.
The Family Counseling Center is among the more than 30 organizations already trying to focus efforts in the area, said Executive Director Frank Mack.
Weve got to start somewhere in this city to make a difference in the lives of not only the children but the families that should be serving the children, Mack said Friday. We cant walk away from this issue. We cant walk away from the lives of the children were here to serve.
Mack said the additional funding is critical to being able to coordinate services. Four or five agencies already may serve some families in the area, which may be led by a grandparent or a single mother, or be sharing a home with several other families.
That childs not going to do well in school if he or shes dealing with all kinds of issues at home and not getting the support he needs, Mack said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.