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MFISD going after millions in grant money for safety, higher learning

Marble Falls ISD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Yarda Leflet

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Yarda Leflet gave an overview of the state and federal grants for which the Marble Falls Independent School District plans to apply during the Board of Trustees' special meeting on June 5. Screen-captured image

The Marble Falls Independent School District plans to apply for millions of dollars in federal and state grants to increase campus safety and promote higher learning in the 2023-24 academic year. The Board of Trustees gave district officials the OK to seek the money during a special meeting on June 5.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Yarda Leflet explained to trustees the differences between the two kinds of grants the district is eyeing.

“There are entitlement or allotment grants and then there are competitive grants,” she said.

Entitlements are much easier to get, Leflet said.

“We just have to fill out a little application, and we get that money,” she said.

Competitive grants require school districts separate themselves from other applicants.

“That’s where the state says, ‘There’s $1 million available. We will put out $1 million. People are eligible for up to this much,’” Leflet said. “There are reviewers that are hired, and people are scored based off a rubric.”

Leflet explained to the board the district’s selection process when applying for grants.

“With every grant we apply for, there is a certain amount of compliance, there is a certain amount of red tape,” she said. “We don’t apply for every grant that comes out. Some of it is just not worth the squeeze.”

On Marble Falls ISD’s wish list is an entitlement grant totaling more than $250,000 that would help fund safety measures at each of its campuses. Officials are actively working to complete the application, which is more complicated than a traditional entitlement grant.

The application is due in August.

“We get that money, but we have to make sure that we did a ton of stuff first,” Leflet said. “Before we identify what we want to spend that money on, we have to have checked off all of these boxes.”

One entitlement grant the district won’t get is from the federal Rural and Low-Income School Program. MFISD received upwards of $80,000 from the grant program in the 2020-21 school year.

The roadblock for 2023-24 is inaccurate reporting on the 2020 U.S. Census, Leflet said.

“It’s not that we don’t have that level of poverty,” she said. “Many of our people who have a fear of reporting that they live around us were not sought out for the census and they weren’t reported. We lost out on some poverty-level data that would have qualified us for the Rural and Low-Income School Program.”

As far as competitive grants, the district will receive $100,000 to prepare plans for its early college high school program. 

Set to begin with ninth-graders in 2024-25, the program will allow students at Marble Falls High School to graduate with an associate’s degree, along with their diploma, by attending free college-level courses as high schoolers.

The district has also completed a competitive grant application for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, which would award $2 million for various educational and support programs for students.

“We’re waiting for a response for $1.9 million for robust after-school care and summer programming,” Leflet said.

A public comment period on the MFISD website is required by law as the district applies and receives grants. Comments are due by June 26 and should be sent to Leflet at