First look: How Wellington schools plan to spend annual Keely Spinelli grants

Wellington school administrators accept their Keely Spinelli grants last school year. [Photo by Village of Wellington]

Each school year, Wellington funds the Keely Spinelli grant program to provide funding for “programs, instructional materials and equipment to assist students who are performing below proficiency in reading and/or math.”

The program is named for Spinelli, a beloved former principal of Binks Forest Elementary School who died at age 46 in 2008 from ovarian cancer.

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“You have kept her name alive by taking care of the children that she loved so much, year after year,” Palm Beach County District 6 School Board member Marcia Andrews said during the Aug. 1 Wellington Education Committee meeting, where the grant funding was discussed for the first time this school year.

In the years since Spinelli’s death, Wellington implemented and continues to increase funding for the grant program, which now spreads $400,000 between 11 public schools that serve Wellington students:

  • Binks Forest Elementary
  • Elbridge Gale Elementary
  • Equestrian Trails Elementary
  • New Horizons Elementary
  • Panther Run Elementary
  • Wellington Elementary
  • Polo Park Middle
  • Emerald Cove Middle
  • Wellington Landings Middle
  • Palm Beach Central High
  • Wellington High

Each school receives $36,363 for the school year. The final award is made during a ceremony at a Village Council meeting, but schools first present to Wellington’s Education Committee their plans for how the money will be used.

“The Keely Spinelli grant program has paid tremendous dividends across Wellington,” schools Superintendent Mike Burke told Education Committee members. “This model, we brag about across the county. … You guys really wrote the book on how to do this right.”

Here’s a snapshot of how each school plans to use its grant money in the coming school year. All information was taken from the schools’ grant applications.

Quick note: You’ll see “ELA” a lot. That stands for English Language Arts.

Binks Forest Elementary

“This year’s grant will be used to fund our before, during and after school tutorial program for ELA, Math and Science. The additional funds will be used for resource materials for the classrooms and for tutorial.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 809 students last year.

Elbridge Gale Elementary

“We would like to use the funds for tutoring in Reading, Math and Science, to support Reading Recovery, and to purchase resources such as Flocabulary. We will target students a year or more below grade level in reading, and Level 1 and 2 in Math and Science. We will target grades 1-5 in Reading, 3-5 in Math and 5th in Science. (We will have rollover funds as one of our three tutors was not able to begin until she got her education degree in December.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363 plus about $13,000 rollover

The school said the grant helped them serve 165 students last year.

  • Flocabulary uses educational hip-hop to engage students.

Equestrian Trails Elementary

“We will be utilizing the grant for:

  • Three part-time tutors to serve the lowest 25% of students in reading and math in Grades K-5.
  • Tutorial Materials.”

Total anticipated cost: $42,000

The school said the grant helped them serve 245 students last year.

New Horizons Elementary

“1. Provide tutorial for K-5 students in the lowest 25% as well as provide enrichment for proficient students.

2. Purchase reading A to Z to utilize with students who are below proficiency in K-5 for ELA and Science.

3. Purchase 2 out of system tutors to work with below proficiency students in K-1 ELA and math and grades 3-4.

4. Purchase Nearpod technology program to improve ELA with students in the Low 25%.

5. Purchase Reflex Math to improve students’ math number sense in 1-5.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 380 students last year.

  • Nearpod is a group of programs, including Flocabulary, that add interactivity to lessons.
  • Reflex Math is. a popular math education program.

Panther Run Elementary

“Panther Run Elementary is requesting funds to be utilized for two part time day tutors to support students in grades K-5th Grade that are demonstrating a reading deficiency as identified by ‘The School District of Palm Beach County Decision Tree.’ Funds will be utilized to continue to support our Reading Recovery Intervention program with books/materials. Purchase supplemental materials to support instruction such as: Generation Genius, Reflex Math, Scholastic Storyworks, and Flocabulary, and any additional researched based programs as needed.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 73 students last year.

  • Generation Genius creates math and science lessons.
  • Scholastic StoryWorks helps students learn how to read.

Emerald Cove Middle

“Grand funds will be used to fund before, during and afterschool tutorial in both ELA and Math to supplement instruction that occurs during core ELA and Math Classes. Funds will also be used for resources and materials for tutorial as well as incentives for student participation. Instructional resources for Math and ELA will be purchased to benefit literacy in core classes – classroom tool, manipulatives, high-interest reading materials, and instructional tech tools.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 288 ELA and 254 math students last year.

Polo Park Middle

“We would like to utilize the grant to purchase Study Island (All Core Subject Areas Practice and Reteach activities) for all of our students ($15,952). Additionally, we would like to purchase three 6th period supplements to allows for additional tutorials ($17,934.75). We would like to utilize the remaining money to enhance our before and after school tutorial ($2,476.25).”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 100 students last year.

Wellington Landings Middle

“Wellington Landings Middle School plans to utilize grant funds to continue providing extra support and remediation for students in grade 6-8 who fall below expectations for grade-level proficiency. The funds will be utilized to cover instructional salaries for tutorial and small-group instruction, extra period supplements, classroom books, instructional materials, magazines with high-interest reading, incentives for students, and consumable progress monitoring tools.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 1,248 students last year.

Palm Beach Central High

“Material for this year’s proposal have been divided into four categories: Tutorial Programs, Instructional Materials, Consumable Materials, and Student Incentives. Both Reading and Mathematics are taking a similar approach to student support for FY24. -there is a heavy focus on tutorials to supplement instruction in an effort to remediate students. Both programs have allocated funds for materials to both support classroom learning and tutorial programs. Incentives for students who participate in tutorials and excel in classroom instruction have been built into this proposal.

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve 1,500 students last year.

Wellington High

“This year, Wellington High School will use the Keely Spinelli grant to cover the bulk of the price for a site license for IXL for ELA and Mathematics.”

Total anticipated cost: $36,363

The school said the grant helped them serve more than 2,000 students last year.


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