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LI school districts among those sharing in $28 million in federal grant money

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, shown at the

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, shown at the Tilles Center in Greenvale on May 2, announced the awarding of more than $28 million in federal grant money Tuesday to 38 schools. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Four Long Island school districts are among 38 statewide awarded more than $28 million in federal grant money to boost student achievement and provide safe schools.

The Amityville, Brentwood, Mattituck-Cutchogue and Valley Stream 30 school districts will each get amounts ranging from about $200,000 to more than $1.2 million, according to an announcement Tuesday by state Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

The Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, newly authorized under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, are designed to help build state and local capacity to improve academic achievement, state educators said. The state Education Department awarded the federal funds after reviewing proposals by districts that had applied.

“These grants provide flexible funding to districts, so they can decide where the money can best be used,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa.

“These grants have the potential to make our students healthier and safer, more well-rounded, and more tech-savvy,” Elia said. “By providing added flexibility in the use of the grants, districts are empowered to fund activities that make the most sense for their schools and students.”

The Department awarded grants under three headings: Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities; Safe and Healthy Students; and Effective Use of Technology.

Mattituck-Cutchogue officials said Tuesday that the $203,522 awarded to the 1,100-student North Fork district will help them greatly enhance their world-languages curriculum.

The competitive grant was awarded to enhance the district’s Languages Other Than English program with a K-12 World Language and World Culture studies program, school officials said. Funding will enable the district to expand the existing K-3 foreign-language immersion program in Spanish to K-6 as well as offset the cost of staff and technology.

“One of our district goals and the goal of the grant is to have more students achieve the biliteracy designation on their high school diploma,” said Superintendent Anne Smith.

The grant also provides support — such as staff training and online resources — for world languages at the secondary level.

The Amityville district received $889,241 and the Valley Stream 30 district received $426,581 — both to improve the effective use of technology.

Mary T. Kelly, superintendent in Amityville, said the district’s grant will enable them to fully support college and career readiness.

Students will engage in a technology-supported, team-building approach where they participate as designers, engineers, documenters, and strategists to create board games and video games based on informational and fictional texts selected from the existing school-day curriculum.

Teachers will learn to use online support tools and teacher specialists will learn to use visual media, such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality tools, to make science and social-studies curricula come alive.

Roxanne Garcia France, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Valley Stream District 30, said the grant will allow the school system to increase access to personalized learning experiences supported by technology. The effort will include coaching staff on how to create effective digital-age learning environments, she said.

The Brentwood district is getting the largest grant on the Island, $1,252,164, under the content area of safe and healthy students. District officials there were unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Districts that receive grant awards must prioritize funding to schools based on one or more of the following criteria: The schools must be among those with the greatest needs (as determined by the district), have the highest percentages of low-income students; be identified for comprehensive support and improvement; have consistently underperforming subgroups of students; or be identified as a persistently dangerous school, as defined by a measure that looks back at two years of data on incidents of violence.

Grant funding runs through September 2019.

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