Gov. Deval Patrick of MA has included almost $10 million for programs targeted at closing the student achievement gap in Gateway Cities in the fiscal 2013 budget proposal he released today.

“We realize when we look closely at (the state’s academic) results that a profound, deep achievement gap still exists,” said Paul Reville, the state’s education secretary.

And, he continued later, “Most of the children who are caught in achievement gaps in the commonwealth of Massachusetts live in those Gateway Cities.”

The funding, which would be awarded through a competitive grant application process, would go toward four priorities:

  • Providing professional development for educators at family care child programs to improve the quality of literacy instruction and providing support for families to help maintain an emphasis on literacy at home.
  • Creating student support councils and providing low-income schools with student support counselors to help connect students to existing social service agencies within the community.
  • Developing a program to provide English language learners with additional instruction in English, either after school, on Saturdays or through a summer program.
  • Establishing high school career academies to provide students with exposure to careers earlier in their academic experience.

In Patrick’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget, the four initiatives would be funded at $575,000, $3.64 million, $3.75 million and $1.01 million, respectively.

Also included in the governor’s budget is $1 million to create a statewide education innovation fund to which school districts could apply to fund more experimental ideas.

Exact details on the grant application process are still being worked out, but requests for proposals will not be issued until this summer, according to Reville. Fiscal 2013 starts on July 1.

According to Reville, it is likely there will be a set number of grants — six, give or take, he said — available under each category.

Awards from the innovation fund are more likely to be decided on a project-by-project basis, said a spokeswoman from the Executive Office of Education.

“There is no getting around the fact that New Bedford faces deep-seated and persistent problems in our schools,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement.

“The only way that we meet these challenges is to recognize conventional approaches are not working. What the system needs are new ideas and a sense of urgency.”

The priorities identified by the governor are “very consistent with what we’re doing in New Bedford, right down the line,” School Superintendent Mary Louise Francis said.

“All of those are things that we’re really committed to and are planning on doing with the existing resources.”

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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