Schools leaning in high-tech direction



NAUGATUCK — Traditional textbooks may be replaced with e-readers or computerized tablets in some borough schools.

The Board of Education is using some of the $1.16 million it has received from the state this year to purchase literacy and curriculum materials that are specifically aligned with the new Common Core state standards. A big part of those standards is geared toward making students more comfortable with technology.

The money was given to the district through the Alliance District program, through which the state gives extra money aimed at school reform to the 30 lowest-performing districts in the state. This year, the borough received nearly twice as much as it was given last year, when it got about $660,000.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Chris Montini recently gave the school board a breakdown of where the money will be earmarked. His report states that the money is going to four specific areas where the state wants to see improvement: strengthening core curriculum and instruction, $887,139; talent management, $98,250; extended learning programs, $155,275; and early childhood education, $20,000.

Digital readers are included under the category of strengthening the core curriculum and instruction. Montini said it behooves the district to spend money on digital devices because they can be used for a variety of subjects, unlike textbooks. The digital devices would stay at school at the end of the day, he said.

“At this point, we think that is the best route because we don’t have ways to combat against students taking them home and possibly getting a virus on them or something else that is unforeseen,” he said.

He also said the district will consider implementing a system called “bring your own devices,” where students bring their own computers, tablets or other technological devices to school. Other towns in the state, including nearby Cheshire, have such an arrangement with students.

Other interesting earmarks for the Alliance District funding include: consultant support for curriculum development and implementation; money to make a part-time elementary school counselor into a full-time employee; materials for reading and math programs for students performing below grade level; professional development; administrator internships; continuing after school tutoring for K-8 and extending after-school tutoring to high school; and continuing summer school for the second straight year.

The school board will also explore “wrap around services,” which are before- and after-school programs geared toward underprivileged families to give them meals, family support and other extracurricular assistance.