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Batavia Middle School to participate in federal grant program in English language arts

BATAVIA – The city school district is hoping to bring out the best in its faculty during the coming school year by participating in the Teacher Potential Project, a federal grant program that will provide professional development and coaching tools to English language arts teachers at the middle school.

Speaking at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum, said the partnership with Expeditionary Learning will result in having coaches at the middle school for 24 days during the 2015-16 school year.

“It is state-of-the-art ongoing professional development that will trickle into every classroom, as well as faculty meetings,” Corey said.

Corey said Batavia qualified to enter a lottery for an Investing in Innovation research grant from the U.S. Department of Education and ultimately was selected to participate. She said the district will pay a “nominal fee,” adding that the normal cost is about $200,000.

Founded in 1993, Expeditionary Learning is a national nonprofit organization that works with school districts to equip teachers to effectively instruct students in line with state Common Core Learning Standards.

The first teaching institute took place in June after the school year ended. Middle school teachers will take part in two more institutes to learn how to use data and apply it to their educational strategies.

Also during the meeting, Superintendent Christopher J. Dailey reported that the high school graduation rate increased by more than 5 percentage points last year, to 89.9 percent.

Praising Batavia High School Principal Scott Wilson and his staff, he said, “They worked with students who were struggling and with their families right up to graduation.”

Dailey noted the graduation rate would be 90.8 percent by adding three students who earned Skills Achievement Commencement Credentials, or SACC, and have gone on to find full-time employment.

Formerly known as Individualized Education Program diplomas, the SACC program is for students with severe disabilities who are eligible to take the New York State alternate assessment test.

“New York State does not count them toward graduation rates but they should,” Dailey said. “They have earned it.”

In other matters, the board:

• Voted to approve raises of 3.5 percent for the business administrator’s secretary and the district treasurer, increasing their hourly rates to $20.87 and $36.21, respectively.

• Entered into a one-year contract with Le Roy Physical Therapy for 700 to 900 hours of service at a rate of $29.50 per hour.

• Elected Jessica Maguire-Tomidy as board vice president.