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Board Approves Program for 'At-Risk' Middle Schoolers

Glen Cove's Board of Education says extra-help program will aid at-risk middle school students.

The Glen Cove Board of Education approved a new academic intervention program at the Monday night meeting at .

In definition, the "Excel" program will assign a number of middle school students considered "at-risk" for their academic performance, much in the same way the honors program is structured, said deputy superintendent Kevin Wurtz.

The program will aim to increase interaction with the students, with a key focus group of non-native English speakers.

The pilot program will cost the taxpayers $250,000 to implement, and received criticism from dissenting trustees Joel Sunshine and Gail Nebdor-Gross.

Key architects of the program, including middle school administrators, are outgoing to other school districts. That's a void which Sunshine expressed doubts about concerning the program's success and accountability.

"From life experience and an observation of basic human nature, a new hire isn't likely to feel the same sense of ownership to the program. To me this can guarantee failure," Sunshine said.

Sunshine pointed to the high school's former alternative program, which he said was initially well-received by the public.

"One of our jobs is to be good stewards of taxpayer money, and if this program fails, what I'd fear is good money thrown after bad, and that political winds would make it impossible to implement again," Sunshine said. "I'd have preferred we waited until after we hire."

Nebdor-Gross, in dissent to Monday's passing, said she had concerns with the writing and implementation of the program. She said she hoped that it would sound more attractive to students who could use the services.

Superintendent Joseph Laria assured the board and attendees that he would stay on top of the program.

"As long as I'm here, I won't let things go," Laria said. "The buck stops here."

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