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Greenwich Schools Target Funds at Science, Writing

GREENWICH, Conn. – In an effort to combat low student achievement in science and writing, the Greenwich Public School district is directing much of its nearly $140 million budget proposal toward evaluating teachers, assessing benchmarks in different subject areas and creating a new position.

The district proposed a $139,870,220 budget this year, a 2.56 percent increase over this year’s budget of $136,312,034. Interim Superintendent Roger Lulow presented the budget to the Board of Estimate and Taxation's Budget Committee on Monday night.

After analyzing 2010-11 data, the district named six areas of concern that funding will address, most prominently a lack of improvement in science. The district adopted a new science curriculum in March 2010, but the multiple year implementation schedule has delayed apparent results. The district wants to speed implementation of the new curriculum in 2012-13 at a cost of $346,000.

The budget also aims combat two years of declining writing scores with additional training and nonfiction materials for the writing curriculum for $37,000 a year.

Though no price tag has been set for the initiatives, the district want to address the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and the rest of the student body, which is at “unacceptably high levels;” low Grade 3 reading and math scores when compared with other districts; underperformance by students who have been in the district less than three years, when compared with those who have longevity in the systems; and students in the transition years from elementary to middle schools who have not exhibited expected growth in standardized test scores.

To target schools — including New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue — that underperform on tests or do not have Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by No Child Left Behind federal legislation, the district wants to hire a math coach for $78,000.

The district wants to improve instruction in the classroom by designing common benchmarks in math, reading/language arts, English and science. The cost of creating these benchmarks would be $40,250.

The district also wants to create data teams to come together and address individual student needs as well as day-to-day work in the classroom, and develop improvement plans at individual schools. The cost of data team creation in the proposed budget would be $47,000.

Another aim to improve instruction would be creating curriculum across all subject areas that align to state standards, expand students’ core body of knowledge, and teach the ability to apply knowledge and capacities to real-world situations. This alignment is slated to cost $62,000 in the proposed budget.

A new teacher evaluation plan aims to help identify areas where teachers need to focus, at a cost of $102,000 in the proposed budget.

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