NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Public Schools has lost a substantial grant, adding to what was already described as a challenging need to rework the schools 2015-16 operating budget.
Although the Common Council, with the support of Mayor Harry Rilling, fully funded the Board of Education’s budget request filed under former Superintendent of Schools Manny Rivera, since then an unexpectedly high amount of money has been spent on special education. On Monday night, BoE member Mike Barbis informed Democratic Town Committee members that NPS has lost its Dalio Foundation grant.
“It was 2-year gig, they had an out after a year. They exercised that out,” Barbis said.
The grant was lost because some school principals did not follow Rivera’s instructions on using curriculum and instruction site directors, a position Rivera created to replace assistant principals, BoE Chairman Mike Lyons said.
The loss of the grant was first reported in May in the NancyOnNorwalk comments section. Lyons said at the time that there was still hope that Dalio might be persuaded to continue funding the grant, that this development wasn’t cast in stone.
Rivera said in August that Dalio’s $1.1 million grant supported the district’s efforts to implement the Common Core standards, enabling the district to hire “full-time curriculum and instruction site directors in five schools, as well as a key position for research, data analysis and accountability.”
Barbis said Monday that there is one curriculum and instruction site director at each of Norwalk’s 12 elementary schools, and Dalio funded half the cost of that.
A comment on this website said that Norwalk might have lost a large grant because of an argument between administrators.
“I have also heard of funding issues with the Asst. Principals but understand it may be due in part to an incident in which two administrators openly fought in front of a foundation funder,” Lisa Thomson wrote on May 20. “There seems to be an internal ‘battle’ going on at the elementary schools as the academic bar is raised and roles and responsibilities of staff change; but openly fighting in front of funders, who help make-up the budget difference of our short-changed ECS state funding, is unacceptable.”
Lyons said Monday that it wasn’t an argument, but a misuse of resources.
“It has to do with failure by some principals to properly implement the K-5 literacy program,” Lyons wrote in an email. “Some directed the CISDs to function essentially as assistant principals instead of doing the CISD duties the jobs had been redesigned for. That, plus resistance to implementation of some assessments, was inconsistent with the grant terms.”
Interim Superintendent James Connelly has been “working on preserving as many of the positions as possible, with Alliance and general funding,” Lyons wrote. “We will finalize the budget on Thursday.”
The special BoE meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Common Council chambers.