Capital School District received $345,000 and Caesar Rodney received $167,008 in Department of Education grants last week.

The Delaware Department of Education awarded 85 schools throughout the state a total of $2.6 million Aug. 28. Administrators at both Capital and Caesar Rodney school districts said that these funds will help them focus more on their special education students.

“We’re focusing on the needs of our students, particularly special education,” said Dr. Sylvia M. Henderson, Capital School District assistant superintendent.

Capital was granted $345,000 in a Reimagining Professional Learning Opportunity Grant to set into motion a three-year plan to determine which practices work best for their students with disabilities.

The grant will cover the first year of their plan, in which the district leaders will partner with Johns Hopkins University to analyze the structures that already exist in Capital’s schools.

“We spend a lot of time looking for the right resource to help us with this implementation. We’re really confident and we’re excited about the learning that’s going to take place,” Henderson said.

In year two, the district will focus on training teachers and families, and in year three, they will analyze the results of the first two years, Henderson explained. Still, the funding for the next two years is not guaranteed and depends on the progress and needs of the schools, she said.

Caesar Rodney received $50,000 in an Increasing Rigor through Instructional Best Practices grant, which will help fund a closer look at the best practices for English language learners and special education students.

The district will partner with Stetson & Associates, an education consulting firm. Stetson representatives will come into the schools, observe and identify specific needs, lead professional development in the classrooms, and check back in two or three times throughout the school year, explained Tara Faircloth, Caesar Rodney director of curriculum and instruction.

“[This is] a good tool to maximize the staff that we have to better meet individual student needs,” Faircloth said. She explained that Caesar Rodney classrooms can look different based on their needs; sometimes there will be two teachers, or an assistant teacher who pitches in part of the period.

The partnership with Stetson will kick off next week with professional development beginning Sept. 16, Faircloth said.

Part of the $50,000 grant will pay for a continuing partnership with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to bring inclusive practices to middle schools, making this a district-wide effort, she said.

The second grant Caesar Rodney received was for $117,008 under the name: “Conceptual Instruction that Ensures Readiness for Secondary Mathematics - Yes That Really Exists!”

This grant will fund professional development from SREB for third through fifth grade math teachers. The partnership will help provide support for elementary math teachers since math scores tend to fall below English and language arts, Faircloth said.

SREB will work with the teachers to better understand conceptual mathematics and how to best reach students of all demographics, she said.

The district decided to go forward with the professional development after a pilot program last year.

“The feedback that we got back from teachers was this was the best professional development they ever had,” Faircloth said. “The reason we like it is they’ll actually model different components of the professional development with students in our classrooms,” she added.

The district also received $5,000 from the Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education and invested more than $23,000 of their own funding to make the program possible.

Leaders within the school district will be able to continue teaching math teachers after SREB leaves the schools, Faircloth said.

“One of the things that we felt was really important was that we didn’t want this to be a one and done. This is something that we wanted to sustain,” she said.