Norwich — The state Department of Education has approved the Alliance District school improvement plan for Norwich public schools, which will bring the remaining $2 million state grant to Norwich, school officials said.
The Norwich public school system is one of 30 state Alliance Districts designated to receive additional grant funding for improvements. But before the money is released, state officials must approve improvement plans that address reforms ranging from curriculum to teacher evaluation, professional development and cultural sensitivity.
Superintendent Abby Dolliver said she learned Monday that the plan has been approved and the grant money should follow. The state Department of Education in August released partial funding of $360,000 to Norwich schools to hire staff needed for the improvement plan to start the school year while the full plan was being reviewed by the state.
Dolliver said eight teachers were hired to expand full-day kindergarten and to reduce class sizes and eliminate multi-age classrooms needed last year because of staff cuts. The partial grant paid for first-quarter salaries for those teachers, and the remaining $2 million will cover their salaries for remainder of the school year and fund other aspects of the plan.
The school system also wants to hire additional parent engagement specialists to improve family involvement with the schools and hire part-time computer specialists to help teachers develop their individual web pages called for in the improvement plan. The websites are designed to improve communication between teachers and students and their families, Dolliver said.
The plan also includes professional development for teachers to implement the new common core curriculum goals, literacy workshop instruction for teachers and administrators and support for teacher evaluations. It also calls for training in “cultural competency” to ensure the schools provide educational materials of interest to students with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.