11.22.13

SCHUMER VISITS MIDDLETOWNS PRESIDENTIAL PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FOR GRAND OPENING LAST YEAR, SCHUMER HELPED SECURE $20 MILLION IN FEDERAL RACE TO THE TOP FUNDS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR NEW SCHOOL, EQUIPMENT HIGH SCHOOL COURSES

brMiddletown Received One of Only 16 Awards in Nation - Schumer Outlines Critical New Program Proposals Brought About by Federal Race to the Top Funds: New School, Expanded Kindergarten, New Technology for Students, and 26 New College-Level Courses for High-School SeniorsbrbrSchumer Said Race to the Top Funds and New Elementary School are a Capstone in Middletown Schools Past Decade of Success Despite Dwindling Funds, Middletown Has Shown Steady Improvement Since 2004brbrSchumer: Middletown is

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today joined the Superintendent of the Middletown School District for the grand opening of Presidential Park Middletown Elementary School. Last year, Schumer recommended Middletown School district for federal Race to the Top Funds last year, and they subsequently became one of only 16 awardees in the nation and received almost $20 million from the U.S. Department of Education. The massive federal grant Schumer helped secure has made the opening of the new elementary school possible, and funded a number of other ventures in the Middletown School District, including: a twoyear kindergarten program, the purchase of new technology equipment - including iPads - for student use, and 26 new collegelevel courses through Syracuse University for highschool students.  Schumer explained that the Race to the Top funding will help remake the entire Middletown School District into a system that prepares techsavvy students who will be highly competitive for colleges and future careers.  Even more importantly, Schumer stated that the funds have allowed Middletown to open a new elementary school to meet the rapidly increasing demand on the district - nearly 100 new students are being enrolled on average each year, with over 300 new students enrolled this year alone.

"The federal government can make no better investment than that in the education and development of our nation's schoolchildren, preparing them for college and the careers of the future.  These Race to the Top funds will help Middletown do exactly that by building on their success over the past decade in creating a hightech learning environment from elementary school through high school," said Schumer.  "I am thrilled to be here at the opening of Middletown's new elementary school, which should immediately help the school district cope with increasing demand. More than that however, the funds will build on the Middletown School District's rapid improvement in achievement over the past decade by helping them purchase new equipment, expand kindergarten programs, and offer more collegelevel courses for highschool seniors. From top to bottom, K through 12, Middletown is a big winner in the real race to the top: providing our students with the means to reach their fullest potential."

 

In 2003 and 2004, the Middletown school district was struggling with falling test scores.  But from 2005 until now, Middletown has turned around its lowestachieving schools, despite the obstacles of dwindling fiscal resources. Today, while costperstudent at Middletown schools are still some of the lowest in the Hudson Valley, their achievement is one of the highest in the region.  Over the past 10 years, Middletown has improved academic achievement, graduation rates, and other indicators of student and school success. Since 200304, elementary/middle student achievement scores have increased by 28 points for English Language Arts (ELA), 30 points for Mathematics, and 3 points for science. The achievement of high school students has improved even more; achievement increased 67 points for ELA and 78 points in Math. In fact, Middletown was recently selected to be one of six inducted into the prestigious "League of Innovative Schools," for their success in teaching with technology. There are currently only 40 school districts in the country in this prestigious organization. 

 

This turnaround prompted Senator Schumer to support their 2012 bid for federal Race to the Top Funds, which they received with 15 other school districts nationwide out of 372 applications. Schumer explained that the grant came at a crucial time, when the Middletown District faces a rate of nearly 100 new students being enrolled each year on average over the past 5 years - and 300 this year alone. He noted that the new Elementary school will be critical infrastructure for meeting that demand.  Schumer also detailed the numerous proposals for which the funding could be used to transform the districts programs from kindergarten through highschool:

·         Introduce a twoyear kindergarten program to assist new students in the district who are not "kindergartenready."

·         Onetoone technology initiative. Students in grades six to 12 will receive tablets like iPads for classroom use. District officials want to buy about 5,000 tablets their students.

·         Use of software to study each student's individual learning style in order to teach them more effectively.

·         Syracuse University Project Advance. The district plans to offer 26 credits worth of college level courses through Syracuse University to qualified juniors and seniors by next September. Students who receive free or discounted lunch can take the classes for free.

·         Creation of software that will simulate a year in the life of a teacher or school administrator by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. The district plans to make the simulators available for free to anyone who is interested.

Launched in 2009, Race to the Top continues to inspire dramatic education reform nationwide, providing lowperforming schools with the means to continue pursuing turnaround intervention programs. Between 2004 and 2010, Middletown elementary and middle schools showed a significant increase on the state's Performance Index scores in core subjects of English and Math. Race to the Top funds are intended for school districts to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers. The federal 2012 Race to the TopDistrict (RTTD) grantees will receive fouryear awards that range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the Department of Education received in November 2012, and they represent both states that received a RTT state grant as well as those that have not received state funding. 

 

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