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Wednesday was the first day of classes at the newly independent Village School of North Bennington, where students were entertained by a circus performer during an assembly. (Peter Crabtree)
Wednesday was the first day of classes at the newly independent Village School of North Bennington, where students were entertained by a circus performer
Wednesday was the first day of classes at the newly independent Village School of North Bennington, where students were entertained by a circus performer during an assembly. (Peter Crabtree)

ELIZABETH A. CONKEY

Staff Writer

MONTPELIER -- Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca announced Wednesday that Vermont was one of five states selected by University of Kansas researchers to implement a five-year, $24.5 million kindergarten through eighth grade national education initiative known as SWIFT (Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation).

In addition to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Mississippi, and Oregon were also chosen, based on criteria that included their locations in rural, urban, and high-need districts.

Each of the five state education agencies, in collaboration with the SWIFT Center, has identified four local supervisory unions to participate in the grant program.

In Vermont, Grand Isle Supervisory Union, Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union, Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union were selected. Within each supervisory union, four schools will participate.

Through the grant, the Center will support schools in the four supervisory unions primarily by providing national experts to help them focus on special areas of concern, such as behavior, academics, family engagement, and other issues.

"We are thrilled to be one of the five states selected," said Karin Edwards, Integrated Support for Learning director at the Agency of Education. "Vermont was selected through a competitive process.


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The resources that SWIFT will bring to the state and the Supervisory Unions involved build our capacity to improve outcomes for all students."

SVSU superintendent Catherine McClure noted her respective supervisory union was invited to apply earlier in the year.

She went on to explain that she and her fellow SVSU board members have decided they will focus most of their attention on two area schools, but declined confirm which ones at this time.

"Before we announce the two schools, we will need to meet with the state and get more information about the program," she said. "However, we are delighted to have been chosen to participate."

According to McClure, a meeting between SVSU board members and Vermont Department of Education officials is set to take place mid-September.

The Center is housed at the University of Kansas and funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

To learn more about SWIFT, visit www.swiftschools.org.

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey by e-mail at econkey@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.