Governor Malloy: Gov. Malloy: Millions in Additional Funding Will Assist Struggling School Districts

 
{Governor Malloy Press Release Masthead}
 
 August 21, 2014
 
 
GOV. MALLOY: MILLIONS IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING WILL ASSIST STRUGGLING SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Full-Day Kindergarten, Early Literacy and Additional Student Support Among Top Priorities
 
(HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, today announced that Alliance Districts are set to receive a total of $132,901,813 in additional funding for the 2014-15 academic year to help implement academic improvement plans.  To date, 28 of 30 Alliance District Year Three plan amendments have been approved, with the final approvals expected in the coming weeks.
 
The Alliance District program is the state’s lead initiative to improve student success in the state’s 30 most chronically struggling school districts and to help close achievement gaps.  Since its creation in 2012, the Alliance District program has invested $259,843,832 in Connecticut’s high-need school districts.
 
“A central part of our effort to improve public education is to make sure that districts that need the most help are getting the extra support they need, and that’s exactly what the Alliance District programs does,” Governor Malloy said.  “With this additional funding, districts are doing everything from focusing on early literacy to adding full-day kindergarten.  It’s a huge step forward, one that is led at local level to the benefit of every child in that district.”
 
The increased financial investment is tied to greater accountability for how this funding is spent.  A true state-district partnership, the Alliance District program requires an annual submission of turnaround plan amendments for approval from the state.
 
“The Alliance Districts program represents a true alliance between historically lower performing school districts and the state,” Commissioner Pryor said.  “As participants in this partnership, districts craft and commit to strategies aimed at improving their performance in key state and locally-identified areas and, in turn, the state provides substantial new resources to assist these districts in carrying out their plans.  In addition, the State Department of Education convenes the 30 Alliance Districts quarterly in order to enable them to share best practices and hone their strategies.  Many Alliance Districts are making real progress in improving conditions and enhancing opportunities at their schools and in their classrooms, and the results are starting to show.  I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished to date through this program and I’m grateful for Governor Malloy’s leadership, which enabled the creation of this program, as well as his continued commitment to the provision of these important district resources.”
 
The Alliance District program provides districts with the needed flexibility to identify and craft strategies to address their specific needs and challenges.
 
The state identifies priority areas for districts to address via locally developed strategies in their turnaround plans. In addition to these state priority areas, the Alliance Districts identify several additional priority areas and strategies of their own. 
 
For the second year in a row, the state defined the transition to the Connecticut Core Standards, the implementation of educator evaluation and support systems, and the turnaround of low-performing schools as priority areas.
 
In addition, districts were required to add K-3 literacy as a focus in their plan amendments. Reading at grade level by the third grade is critically important for future academic success. The enhancement of resources for K-3 literacy and strengthening of early reading supports helps to ensure that Connecticut’s young readers who struggle will get the help they need.
 
“The East Hartford Public Schools are utilizing Alliance District funding to support early literacy — particularly for getting needed materials for students in grades K-2,” East Hartford Superintendent Nathan D. Quesnel said.  “These resources provide Common Core aligned instruction that help students reach grade level by Grade 3.”
 
Though each district faces its own unique set of circumstances and challenges, several common themes emerge throughout the 30 individual plans.
 

Early Learning
 
More than half of the Alliance Districts – nineteen in total – are devoting resources to expanding and strengthening pre-Kindergarten programs or expanding full-day Kindergarten, such as Bristol Public Schools.
 
“The Alliance grant provides the Bristol Public Schools with the exceptional opportunity to implement a high-quality, full-day Kindergarten program beginning this year,” Bristol Superintendent Ellen Solek said.  “The fiscal support provided through this grant will benefit thousands of Bristol Kindergarten students over time, while positively impacting the City of Bristol and its families.  We are very grateful to Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor for their ongoing support and for the valuable opportunity that the Alliance Grant funding provides to our schools and to the City of Bristol.”
 

Extended Learning Time
 
Several districts are extending the school day or school year to provide more instructional time for students.  In total, 14 districts have incorporated additional learning time as part of their Alliance District plan to help improve student achievement.
 
In Meriden, the extended school day has been received well by students and families.
 
“The new Alliance District funds have allowed students at three of our neighborhood elementary schools to attend school one hundred minutes more per day, which equates to over 40 additional days of school a year,” Meriden Superintendent Mark Benigni said.  “This additional time supports enrichment activities, increased technology offerings, health and nutrition activities and teacher collaboration time.  Our students and families love the redesigned school day and initial results have been most positive.”
 

Supports for Students
 
Students who are chronically absent, missing ten percent of school days, in the ninth grade are less likely to graduate high school within four years.  This is especially true for Connecticut students of color; less than 40 percent of chronically absent Hispanic and black ninth-grade students graduate within four years.
 
New Britain Superintendent Kelt Cooper noted that their focus on improving attendance is showing results.
 
“Our district has realized significant improvement in the chronically absent numbers over the past two years and anticipate even greater improvement this current school year,” said Cooper.
 
Additionally, 20 Alliance Districts are strengthening supports for students by implementing strategies designed to promote students’ social and emotional health.  These strategies include the addition of guidance counselors or mental health professionals as well as the implementation of school wide programs designed to encourage positive student behaviors.
 

Strengthening Academic Supports
 
Nineteen districts are bolstering their efforts to provide additional resources and service to their students who need more help.  Some districts are implementing district wide programs to help ensure that those students who might need the extra help are identified, while other districts are building internal capacity to adequately meet student needs.
 
In addition, half of the districts detailed strategies to strengthen supports for certain student populations such as English Language Learners (ELL) or students with disabilities.  In New Britain, for example, the district devotes considerable resources to improving programs for ELL students.
 
According to Superintendent Cooper, the district is beginning to see results.  He states that “alliance funding has provided important and highly valued, specialized training for teachers of English Language Learners, which has resulted in our ELL students acquiring proficiency in English more rapidly and better than at any other time in our district’s history.”
 

Expanding Development Opportunities for Educators
 
A majority of districts are providing high-quality professional development for teachers and principals. Twenty-five of the 30 Alliance Districts will leverage resources to support coaching or development opportunities for teachers, while 18 districts have identified development opportunities for principals as a key priority.
 
Derby Superintendent Matthew Conway explains, “In today’s schools, we are asking teachers and administrators to play a different role.  In order to be successful, it requires that we provide them with the opportunity to learn and practice that role.  Training will be individualized to maximize the return on the investment and ensure teachers and administrators get the exact support they need.”
 

Family Engagement
 
For more than a third of the districts, engaging families is an area of focus.
 
Norwich Superintendent Abby Dolliver explains her district’s approach to meeting the needs of her school community.  “Alliance funding has allowed Norwich Public Schools to engage with its economically and linguistically diverse families in multiple ways,” she said.  “Five district-wide family liaisons reach out to all families through school-based family events, provide support and opportunities for leadership to targeted groups through literacy workshops, PTOs, School Governance Councils, and Welcoming Walkthrough Teams, and finally provide intensive individualized supports and links to wraparound services for families of students identified as chronically absent.  Through this multi-tiered model, Norwich is able to meet families where they are to build on their strengths, and support student success.”
 

Alliance District Funding
 
The 28 districts announced today are set to receive $107,978,057 of the total $132,901,813 allocation.
 
 

 

Alliance District Funding for 2012-13 through 2014-15

District

Alliance
Funds

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

Ansonia

$539,715

$1,075,200

$1,516,974

Bloomfield

$204,550

$502,062

$820,191

Bridgeport

$4,404,227

$9,528,892

$14,704,804

Bristol

$1,390,182

$2,496,023

$3,691,273

Danbury

$1,696,559

$4,436,289

$6,696,567

Derby

$280,532

$669,532

$1,039,795

East Hartford

$1,714,744

$4,352,756

$7,100,386

East Haven

$489,867

$900,958

$1,240,108

East Windsor

$168,335

$219,295

$307,215

Hamden

$882,986

$2,552,259

$3,987,286

Hartford*

$4,808,111

$8,954,288

$12,855,661

Killingly

$380,134

$514,648

$625,621

Manchester

$1,343,579

$2,592,535

$3,857,041

Meriden

$1,777,411

$4,131,619

$6,181,187

Middletown

$796,637

$1,964,723

$2,996,390

Naugatuck

$635,149

$1,160,664

$1,594,214

New Britain

$2,654,335

$7,098,384

$11,079,553

New Haven*

$3,841,903

$7,929,034

$12,068,095

New London

$809,001

$1,880,085

$2,736,953

Norwalk

$577,476

$904,066

$1,180,676

Norwich

$1,024,982

$2,378,224

$3,878,849

Putnam

$179,863

$261,234

$399,467

Stamford

$920,233

$1,855,142

$2,626,442

Vernon

$671,611

$1,402,214

$2,004,961

Waterbury

$4,395,509

$11,855,075

$19,115,441

West Haven

$1,381,848

$2,809,826

$4,097,639

Winchester

$207,371

$227,182

$363,989

Windham

$763,857

$1,727,773

$2,584,237

Windsor

$306,985

$647,476

$928,381

Windsor Locks

$252,306

$414,563

$622,417

 

Total

$39,499,998

$87,442,021

$132,901,813

*Final approval of Year 3 plan amendment still pending. Funds will be released upon approval.

 

 
The Alliance District program was establish in 2012 when Governor Malloy signed Public Act 12-116, An Act Concerning Educational Reform, into law.  In total, the Alliance Districts serve over 200,000 students and 410 schools.
 
Over the course of the year, the state supports the districts’ implementation by providing technical assistance to help problem-solve if challenges arise and by tracking key indicators like chronic absenteeism and disciplinary actions. The department’s Turnaround Office also convenes the 30 Alliance Districts on a quarterly basis to analyze district performance and to provide the opportunity for collaboration with other districts.
 
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For Immediate Release: August 21, 2014
Contact: David Bednarz
Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy
David.Bednarz@ct.gov
860-524-7315 (office)
860-770-9792 (cell)
 
Contact: Kelly Donnelly
Connecticut State Department of Education
Kelly.donnelly@ct.gov
860-713-6525 (office)
860-983-1550 (cell)