Freeport, West Babylon schools win grants

Freeport and West Babylon are among 17 school districts statewide that have won state Education Department grants for recruiting and retraining staffers -- including teachers rated "ineffective" under the state's new job-evaluation system.

Kishore Kuncham, superintendent of Freeport schools, said his district will team up with Adelphi University to help selected teachers obtain additional certification in bilingual instruction and special education.

Other teachers, he said, would be trained to infuse courses in nontechnical subjects with more topics revolving around science, technology, engineering and math. Freeport's financial award is $786,591 over two years.


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"It's a pretty big chunk of money. We're very excited," said Kuncham, adding that his district typically obtains more than $9 million annually in state and federal grants.

Anthony Cacciola, the West Babylon schools chief, said in a prepared statement that his district's award of $544,250 would also go to staff training and purchases of equipment such as iPads. Training will support the introduction of national Common Core academic standards into local courses, he added.

Eight other Long Island districts are among 32 districts and charter schools named by the education department as potentially eligible for grants, once their teacher evaluation plans are approved. Those districts are Hicksville, Huntington, Island Park, Long Beach, Patchogue-Medford, South Huntington, William Floyd and Wyandanch.

The grants, awarded under a program known as Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness, are funded entirely or in part by federal Race to the Top money. Districts may apply if at least 25 percent of their students come from low-income families.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said such awards were needed because "all too often, our highest-need students miss out on great teachers and school leaders."

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