DANBURY -- Danbury schools are moving closer to additional funding available through the new education reform bill that state educators are fine-tuning.
Danbury superintendent Sal Pascarella is scheduled to attend the state Department of Education's information session Monday with other eligible superintendents to learn the requirements for receiving additional money as Alliance Districts.
"We have been embarking on improvement efforts and gap reduction with limited resources, and it is my understanding that we will be eligible for $1.7 million to enact a five-year-plan,'' Pascarella said Thursday. "This is good news."
Pascarella also said he would apply for the district to take part in the commissioners' network of struggling schools, which would provide more funding.
"I'm trying to do whatever I can to bring more resources to the district,'' Pascarella said.
The new law identified 30 Alliance Districts -- the districts with the lowest district performance-index scores statewide -- and committed $39.5 million in increased funding for the upcoming fiscal year to help them raise student performance and assist in closing the achievement gap.
The law requires each district to present a plan for spending the additional funding, which must be approved by the state Education Department.
Guidelines call for funding to go directly to school districts and not to the municipalities, and stipulate that if districts do not spend the money as proposed, they could be required to repay the funds. The application deadline is Aug. 15. The state is scheduled to approve the funding on Aug. 31.
The guidelines call for alliance districts to reserve the substantial majority of conditional funding for new reform efforts, or the extension of existing reform efforts specifically designed to improve student achievement.
The schools' plans must outline how the use of the funds will improve student performance, which means showing data that document issues of greatest concern and evidence that similar proposals have been successful in the past to improve student performance.
Pascarella has made a preliminary proposal for the $1.7 million in funding. That money includes $350,000 for phase one of all-day kindergarten; funds three new teachers for increased enrollment of English language learners; pays to implement a new teacher evaluation program; increases teacher training, including on-site coaching for teachers working with students at risk; adds six math specialists and funds the writing of new curriculum.
"I have no doubt we can meet the guidelines, Taborsak said. "We feel we can get it, but we understand there are strings attached. Hopefully we'll get it. This would be the first good shot in the arm in a long time."
The other alliance districts are Ansonia, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Derby, East Hartford, East Haven, East Windsor, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Norwich, Putnam, Stamford, Vernon, Waterbury, West Haven, Winchester, Windham, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.