Roxanne Garcia France, director of curriculum and instruction for the North Bellmore district, said that reward schools do not have significant gaps in student achievement among groups such as special-education or impoverished students. The Department of Education’s selection criteria are yet to be released, France said, but it is known that state officials examined student performance on the standardized English Language Arts and math exams as well as other assessments over two years.
France said that students at all five North Bellmore schools have done well on the state assessments, and students’ scores at Saw Mill and Dinkelmeyer were comparable to the three Reward Schools. Goldstein said he hopes the other two buildings will be named to the state list in the future.
“We don’t know when that will take place, but we’re hopeful that our other schools will receive the recognition they so deserve,” he said. “It would have been great if all five schools were selected. All five schools certainly deserve it.”
Marilyn Hirschfield, principal of Newbridge Road, said she was excited that her school was recognized. The entire district should be proud, she added, because programs are similar in each building.
“There is a lot of work everyone does in North Bellmore to provide students with services that help them learn and grow,” Hirschfield said. “This is a reflection of the fact that North Bellmore teachers and administrators are dedicated to the community and its students.”
According to Goldstein, Reward Schools may be able to compete for additional grant money, but he is waiting for officials to confirm details about the amount available and the application process. Park Avenue Principal Eileen Speidel said it is her understanding that reward schools will be able to compete for a share of about $150,000 over a two-year period.
Dr. Henry Kiernan, superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, was unavailable to comment on Kennedy’s and Calhoun’s Reward School status.
David Weingrad contributed to this story.