Wellington Ed Board Hears School Grant Requests

The newly re-organized Wellington Education Committee reviewed 2016-17 Keely Spinelli grant applications on Tuesday and heard presentations from representatives of 11 village schools.

Marcia Hayden, newly reappointed as chair of the committee, welcomed John Webber, Francine Nelson, Shelly Albright and Beth Gillespie to the seven-member panel.

Named after late educator Keely Spinelli, the village provides grant money annually to help local schools. The focus has traditionally been on efforts to boost reading.

Hayden explained that last year’s unused grant money rolled over into the 2016-17 fund. The funding supplied by the village will total almost $300,000, not including last year’s rollovers of almost $35,000.

Dr. Geoff McKee, the central regional instructional superintendent for secondary schools, said he was extremely thankful for the village’s support.

“I come from Boca. I was there for 18 years, and I thought we had tremendous support, which we did, but I realize now that they’re going to have to step up their game to keep pace with Wellington,” he said.

Going in alphabetical order, Binks Forest Elementary School Principal Michella Levy said her school is looking to hire two new teachers and purchase 18 laptops for a new teaching program at the school.

Elbridge Gale Elementary School Principal Gail Pasterczyk said her school wanted $15,000 for tutoring in reading. “We have found that the one-on-one tutoring has been very beneficial,” Pasterczyk said.

She also requested $10,000 for math tutoring and $2,000 for technology software.

Emerald Cove Middle School Principal Eugina Smith Feaman sought village funding for vocabulary and other supplemental resources, laptops, and tutorial and mentor personnel for students in the lowest 25 percent.

Equestrian Trails Elementary School requested two certified teachers to work with the lowest 25 percent of reading students.

New Horizons Elementary School Principal Betsy Cardozo said her school would like to purchase 20 more laptops for reading students, as well as additional tutoring and software, with a focus on kindergarten through second-grade students to prepare them for third grade.

Palm Beach Central High School Principal Darren Edgecomb said he would like to focus on Saturday reading tutorial boot camps and give students incentives who did not attend last year but would have benefited from it.

“There will be much more focus on actually getting the kids there, through breakfast, through prizes, whatever we need to do to get them there,” Edgecomb said. “Once they’re there, we’ll focus on our standards that we teach. We want the Saturday tutorials to emulate what we teach in the classroom.”

He also requested money for the purchase of 10 iPads with educational reading applications on them, and novels and practice workbooks for Hispanic students, as well as daily math tutoring during lunch and after school. He pointed out that a third of the school’s population is Hispanic, and 44 percent receive free and reduced-price lunch.

Panther Run Elementary School Principal Pamela Strachan requested the continuance of a reading tutor, as well as the purchase of 60 laptops for kindergarten and first-grade students.

“I’m going to continue with the reading tutor because I think this is really making a difference,” Strachan said, explaining that the school district’s goal is to have 75 percent of third-grade students at reading proficiency.

Polo Park Middle School Principal Ann Clark requested funding to keep the school’s reading center open during the summer.

“We’ve heard about the summer slide, and many of the elementary schools were opening the media center over the summer, so we’re going to give that a shot and open it three mornings a week,” Clark said, adding that she also wants to open the media center before school. “Many of these students don’t have internet at home, don’t have computers, don’t have printers, and our media center is full.”

She also requested a laptop charging station and 25 laptops for reading students, and to provide tutorials for students in the lower 25 percent in reading and math.

Wellington Elementary School Principal Maria Vaughan requested funding to hire one part-time tutor for reading in grades two, three and five, as well as three additional tutors to work with students in grades kindergarten, one and four, along with teaching software.

Wellington High School Principal Mario Crocetti requested 30 laptops, one laptop cart and about 375 tutorial hours due to the growth of the school population by students attending magnet programs.

“Learning gains is a big piece,” Crocetti said. “It wasn’t just the reading; it was also the math. It was the lowest 25 percent in each group — getting those students targeted and getting them into those programs. You can put them into those programs, but they still need more than those 50 minutes a day that we can offer.”


  1. It is absolutely poor decision making and absolutely childish to allow the principal of Palm Beach Central High School to use Wellington taxpayer dollars for ‘gifts’ & “prizes” (incentives) to encourage attendance and learning.

    Hope the Education committee deletes that part of the request. If children in Elementary and Middle Schools can attend with no incentives, so can High School students.

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