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Millions slated for Common Core roll out

Board says preliminary spending boosts technology, teacher training

Posted: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.

With a series of new educational guidelines slated to take hold soon, officials in the William S. Hart Union High School District are in the process of developing a plan to spend millions in one-time state funding to help with the transition.
The Hart district received about $4.6 million in state funding that can be spent to help ease the transition into the new educational metrics, known as the Common Core State Standards.

Those standards are required to be in place for the 2014-2015 academic year.

A preliminary plan on how to spend the state funds was presented during Wednesday’s Hart district board meeting.

“This is a preliminary plan that will be evolving over time as we learn new information,” wrote district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker in an email. “We will continue to share with the board as we update the plan.”

Some of the larger aspects of Common Core — a set of uniform metrics meant to standardize curriculum between different states — are its emphases on the use of technology in the classrooms and teaching core subject concepts, with particular attention paid to real-world application of classroom concepts and critical thinking.

To that end, the preliminary proposal for the Hart district is to use just north of $2 million in state funding to help in its technological pursuits, according to Vicki Engbrecht, the district’s deputy superintendent.

The preliminary spending plan also includes spending roughly $2 million on professional development to better prepare to use the technology and effectively teach the Common Core standards.

“I think technology is cool, but we need to make the teachers feel comfortable with what they are doing in the classroom,” Engbrecht said.

Part of the district’s professional development efforts are pupil-free days that were scheduled throughout this school year to provide teachers and staff with additional time to familiarize themselves with the Common Core standards.

The next such day is planned for Feb. 14, when teachers will have the chance to participate in a symposium on Common Core.

Hart district officials also suggested using approximately $510,000 in state funds on instructional materials, such as new math textbooks.

The district has set aside other funds to help cover the cost of purchasing textbooks.


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