The Hamden school district may be eligible for additional hundreds of thousands of state dollars after the state Board of Education deemed it an Alliance District.
Alliance Districts are part of Gov. Dannel Malloy's recently approved education initiative that partners districts with greater need with the state to provide more resources where they are most needed.
Under the designation, the Hamden district is eligible to receive an additional $882,000 over the next five years, according to Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz.
"Our legislators lobbied very strongly for us," she said.
But, she said, the district will have to jump through some hoops before the money is approved.
"There are some ifs in this," she said, including a tight application deadline that requires the submission of a lot of information in a short period of time. The official deadline is Aug. 15, she said, but the state prefers the application be completed by July 15.
"We are going to have to do this quickly, and that is the challenge," she said.
And not all of the town's schools will benefit from the funds, she said.
"We have some of the highest performing schools and some not performing up to par," she said. "This funding will allow us to provide support to the schools in need."
Because the district already has an improvement plan in place and the state has already reviewed and approved it, it won't be necessary to formulate another plan, she said, which will cut back on some of the work.
"They will allow us to use the present improvement plan and deepen and enrich it," she said.
Some of the money will likely go toward funding preschool slots, which have been in high demand. Because of the recently approved No Child Left Behind waiver the state received, the town can use money for preschool that formerly couldn't be used, she said.
The funds also will be utilized at Hamden High School in the areas of reading and math support, she said, which also have been areas targeted for improvement.
One thing is for sure -- there won't be a dearth of places to spend the cash, she said.
"I know $800,000 sounds like a lot of money, but once we put together all our priorities, it will go quickly," she said.
The funding also will allow the district to open another Family Resource Center like the one at Church Hill School, Rabinowitz said, most likely at Ridge Hill School.
"We are excited to be able to provide economically disadvantage students with the support they absolutely need," she said. "We have not been able to fund everything we wanted to and this is the opportunity to do that."
"I have mixed feelings about it," said board member Lesley DeNardis. "I welcome the additional resources about the low performance district label."
"More money is always good money," said board member Jim Pascarella. But, he said, he questioned the state's five-year commitment.
"We have an election [for governor] in two years and who knows what is going to happen," he said. "There isn't a person with the state who can guarantee anything for five months, forget about five years."