IRSD receives more than $2M in state grant funding


The Indian River School District has received three grants from the State of Delaware totaling more than $2.2 million, district officials announced on July 15. The grants will provide funding for professional learning activities for teachers and for programs to improve the academic performance of English Language Learners (ELL) and low-income students, they said.

The largest of the awards was a Delaware Department of Education Opportunity grant in the amount of $2,117,205. The funding will be used for initiatives to assist ELL and low-income students in achieving state proficiency standards in reading and math on DESSA assessments and in meeting various growth targets.

That will involve the hiring of 13 interventionists to assist schools with high percentages of ELL and low-income students. District administrators plan to work closely with the interventionists to analyze data and determine a plan of action based on each individual school’s needs. Interventionists will provide intervention and instruction to ELL and low-income students, analyze data to inform services and provide coaching to teachers.

The grant also includes funding for after-school and summer programs, the hiring of two family-school liaisons and online intervention services for math, phonics and reading comprehension.

“The Opportunity grant will allow our district to address some of our lowest-performing student subgroups as measured by recent state assessments,” IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said. “As a district, we are charged with making sure that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have the opportunity to be successful in the classroom and in life. This grant will go a long way toward achieving that goal.”

The district also received two state Reimagining Professional Learning grants totaling $157,098.72. The grants will provide a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers at 11 district schools.

The first grant, in the amount of $82,098.72, will allow teachers to participate in targeted, high-quality professional learning activities through the implementation of Learning Focus (LF) elements. Throughout the school year, teachers will participate in monthly professional development activities that focus on LF components. They will also receive coaching from certified LF consultants and trainers.

Activities will focus on data-centered planning using the Delaware State Standards and researched-based LF strategies that support all students. Professional development will focus on using standards to develop essential questions, learning activities, assessment prompts and differentiated instruction.

Schools participating in the program are East Millsboro Elementary, Georgetown Elementary, John M. Clayton Elementary, Long Neck Elementary, Lord Baltimore Elementary, North Georgetown Elementary, Phillip C. Showell Elementary and Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

“We are excited to have written and received a grant that will support our teachers as they work to continue to provide our students with the best learning opportunities,” said Kelly Dorman, district director of Elementary Education. “This grant will help us to reach our goal of ensuring that all of our students learn and grow each day.”

The second Reimagining grant, totaling $75,000, will assist Millsboro Middle School, Selbyville Middle School and Sussex Central High School in improving the academic performance of special-education students. Funding will allow the schools to use a coaching model for teacher professional learning through partnerships with LF and Inclusion-Focused Coaching with Dr. Amy Pleet-Odle. The partnership is designed to help school administrators and teachers deepen their understanding of and ability to create and deliver rigorous lessons and results-driven inclusion practices.

“We are thrilled that we’ve been awarded extra funding through these grants,” said Renee Jerns, district director of Secondary Education. “We will be able to work even more closely with our schools to target student supports and professional learning in areas that will further close our achievement gap and help our students be even more successful than they already are. Our students deserve this.”