School district receives state approval to amend Alliance Grant

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jan. 11, 2013
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Villar says the amendment will not be a burden on the taxpayers. File photo.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Villar says the amendment will not be a burden on the taxpayers. File photo.

The Windsor School District is the 26th lowest-performing district in the state and is making steps to improve the children's education and decrease the achievement gap. The Connecticut State Department of Education recently approved the Windsor public schools’ amendment to its Alliance Grant application to incorporate the cost of conducting the Equity and Excellence Review authorized by the Windsor Board of Education on Sept. 12, 2012.

The Alliance District program was created to provide new resources to districts in greatest need, provided they embrace the reformation. The approval of the amendment means the State Department of Education has granted permission to use a portion of the state’s education cost sharing funding to pay for all costs, $306,000, associated with Dr. Marlon James’ Equity and Excellence Review. The review is an action-researched professional development model designed to lower the achievement gap in the school system, primarily focusing on the needs of the culturally diverse learners, through looking at the community and school environment.

“It certainly reduces the impact of this on the local taxpayers, which is always something we seek to try to do,” said Dr. Jeffrey Villar, superintendent of Windsor public schools. “When there was an opportunity to get grant funding, we jumped on it. I think the response from most folks is one of relief. It’s been great now that concern has been alleviated and we don’t have to worry about that. That has really had an impact on resistance of the concept of the Equity and Excellence Review.”

After Villar saw that the Board of Education was moving forward with the Equity and Excellence Review, he decided to research if he could make an amendment to the grant because the work of the review was in line with the work of the alliance grant. He noted that Windsor was on track for a surplus of funds in the grant due to delayed implementations of different components of their proposal. He was pleased to see the state supported the initiative of the amended grant.

The first year of the three-year review will be a comprehensive research study that looks at nearly all aspects of the educational programs in the high school, from curriculum and instruction to regulations and rules, according to Villar. From that data, they will analyze to determine what, if any, barriers of success and advancement exist within the system. Villar believes the robust data will help the school system make mindful changes to close the achievement gap.

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