State to award $3M in grants to help teachers

This is a first grade classroom at Branch

This is a first grade classroom at Branch Brook Elementary School in Smithtown at the end of the day Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

The state Education Department will award more than $3 million in grants to help train, recruit and support teachers on Long Island, officials announced Wednesday.

The funds include more than $700,000 for a regional teacher training center in Roslyn designed to help educators from 111 Island districts better implement Common Core, the new national academic standards.

The remaining $2.4 million will be divided among five Long Island school districts selected in the second round of a competitive grant program aimed at professional development, recruitment and retention of teachers in districts where at least 25 percent of the students are from low-income families.


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The five districts -- Huntington, North Babylon, South Huntington, Southampton and West Hempstead -- will receive varying amounts, state education officials said. Thirty-nine districts statewide will receive grants.

"We are firm believers in developing leaders throughout the district," said David Bennardo, superintendent of South Huntington Union Free School District.

South Huntington was awarded $750,560. In the first round of grants, awarded last year, the district received $746,954, which enabled the school to partner with Stony Brook University to develop courses for the district's 500 teachers and instructional modules for use in classrooms to help ease the rollout of Common Core, said Jared Bloom, supervisor of assessment and technology.

The district hired more teacher mentors and data coaches, who help educators interpret the Common Core student test scores and teacher evaluations that are tied to them. It plans to hire a science and math coordinator with the new round of funds, Bloom said.

About 40 percent of the students in the South Huntington district are low-income, meaning they qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. The district's current operating budget is $147 million, Bennardo said.

In the Southampton Union Free School District, the $187,560-grant will fund stipends to "master" teachers who will act as peer mentors during the Common Core transition, said Nicholas Dyno, the district's assistant superintendent for instruction. The money will also go toward hiring data coaches and encourage teachers to get national board certification, Dyno said.

More than 40 percent of Southampton's 1,600 students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. The district has about 140 teachers and its current operating budget is $60 million.

"We are going to make our teachers stronger, which will make our students better," Dyno said.

Carl Korn, spokesman for the New York State United Teachers, said the statewide union endorses professional development but it would have been "more important for teachers to have more meaningful professional training earlier in the implementation of Common Core."


Teaching train grants

Five Long Island school districts awarded funds in the second round of the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness program:

HUNTINGTON: $544,500

NORTH BABYLON: $603,625

SOUTH HUNTINGTON: $750,560

SOUTHAMPTON: $187,560

WEST HEMPSTEAD: $271,000

Source: New York State Education Department

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