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July 16. 2014 10:52PM

Two Manchester schools off 'priority' list

MANCHESTER — Improving student test scores helped remove Gossler Park Elementary School and Southside Middle School from a list of state “priority schools,” therefore eliminating its designation as a “School in Need of Improvement.”

Each school received about $400,000 in federal grants to help fund consultants, as well as professional development and online learning for teachers and principals, according to Pat Snow, executive director of Manchester’s Innovation Zone, which oversees the progress of schools receiving such grants.

“The bottom line is to improve student learning and make it equitable across the board in schools that are identified,” Snow said. “Those are schools that usually are the most challenging population in terms of need. We want to make the educational field equitable for all students, so everyone has the same advantage to learn.”

Three other Manchester schools receive such grants: Middle School at Parkside as well as Beech Street and Wilson schools. Each school receives between $300,00 and $400,000 spread over three years.

Manchester has a total of six “priority schools” that remain on the list, meaning they scored in the bottom 5 percent on statewide assessment tests among Title I schools, which are schools where some of the children receive free or reduced lunches, Snow said.

They are the three currently getting the grants as well as Parker-Varney, Bakersville and McDonough schools.

“The hard work, determination and dedication from every member of the Gossler Park and Southside communities have made those schools exemplary models for other schools in Manchester working to reach the same goals,” said Mayor Ted Gatsas.

Many activities and guidelines for School Improvement Grant, or SIG, schools require hours of professional development, meetings, and data collection and analysis.

“Gossler Park and Southside set the bar for high expectations and continued their pursuit of excellence in academics throughout a transformation process,” according to a statement from the school district. “The strategies are now embedded in the way those schools help children learn.”

“The process taught us a lot about the ways we can be more effective educators,” said Gossler Park principal Lori Upham. “I’ve been able to spend more time in the classroom being an instructional leader...”

District-wide sharing of ideas and experiences also was a key component of success, establishing the foundation for student excellence that will allow Gossler Park and Southside to reach exemplary status, according to the district.


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