Wellington’s Keely Spinelli grant program awards $400,000 to local schools

At the top of Wellington’s busy Village Council meeting Tuesday night was a beloved program that benefits local schools and students in honor of a longtime local educator.

Wellington school principals received their Keely Spinelli grant checks at Tuesday night’s Village Council meeting. [Village of Wellington photo]

The council awarded $36,363 each to 11 schools as part of the village’s Keely Spinelli grant program, named for former Binks Forest Elementary School Principal Spinelli, who died of cancer at just 46 years old in 2008.

The schools that received the grants are Binks Forest, Elbridge Gale, Equestrian Trails, New Horizons, Panther Run and Wellington elementary schools; Polo Park, Emerald Cove and Wellington Landings middle schools; and Palm Beach Central and Wellington high schools.

Each principal was on hand to receive their check, and the village also presented an orchid to each principal in honor of National Principals Month.

Also in attendance were members of the Palm Beach County School District’s administration, including Superintendent Mike Burke and School Board Member Marcia Andrews, whose district includes Wellington.

Andrews worked with Spinelli and was a recipient of the grant when Andrews was principal of Polo Park.

“Academic success was part of her vision, and she made that vision a reality,” Andrews said of Spinelli. She thanked the council for thinking outside the box when it comes to helping local schools. “You are always looking at ways to improve our children, to make them successful,” Andrews said.

“I say this every year: This is the easiest vote we make,” Vice Mayor Michael Drahos said.

Principals presented their plans for the coming year’s grants at the Aug. 2 Education Committee meeting. Each school uses the money to benefit the lowest-performing 25% of students. Principals reported seeing significant gains across a range of subjects thanks to last year’s grant money. For the coming year, schools are focusing on adding additional tutoring, technology and programming to continue to help those students, the principals said.

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