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January 22, 2004 CONTACT:


Visits Sea Coast School in Revere to commit $5 million to effort


REVERE – As part of Governor Mitt Romney’s Legacy of Learning education initiative, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey today outlined plans to commit $5 million in grants in next year’s budget to take disruptive students out of the regular classroom.


“Disruptive students often inhibit learning opportunities for their peers and make it difficult for teachers to focus on teaching,” said Healey, after a roundtable discussion with teachers and administrators at the Sea Coast school, an alternative school for students with severe behavioral problems.


She went on to say, “Our strategy is two fold – to ensure that these children do not interfere with the learning that goes on in mainstream classes and to move them into a more structured program that will help them get the attention they need.”


The Sea Coast School, established three years ago, currently serves 177 students in grades seven through twelve with a wide range of discipline problems. The school has 28 staff members, including a full-time social worker to help students deal with a wide range of problems, including drug abuse, anger management and troubled homes. The ultimate goal for these students is to transition them back into the normal high school.


Across the state, alternative education programs vary in size and scope to address the needs of students with behavioral problems.


Healey said the budget recommendations she and Romney unveil next week will include $5 million to support these programs.


“Often our disruptive students have personal problems that make learning in the regular classroom difficult for both them and their peers,” said Education Commissioner David Driscoll. “Alternative programs have proven to be very successful in not only getting such students to learn, but in allowing everyone to continue their classwork without disruption.”


According to the state Department of Education, there were nearly 1,800 student exclusions reported in the 2001-2002 academic year, the latest information available. An “exclusion” is defined as the removal of a student from participation in regular school activities for disciplinary purposes for more than 10 consecutive school days. Alternative education was provided for 71 percent of these students.


Problems caused by disruptive students are believed to be much greater as many schools do not report their exclusions to the state, and many behavioral problems do not lead to exclusions.


Romney announced his Legacy of Learning initiative last week as part of his State of the State Address. In addition to the $5 million in grants, other highlights of the plan include:



John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Program, which offers four years of free tuition at the University of Massachusetts or any state or community college to students whose MCAS scores by the end of their junior year rank in the top 25 percent of those taking the test. The top 10 percent will receive a $2,000 annual bonus to help defray the cost of fees;

Accelerates the construction or renovation of hundreds of school projects that are on a waiting list for the School Building Assistance (SBA) program;

Invests $34 million in new dollars in the bottom 10 percent of school districts, where nearly one-third of the state’s students are enrolled;

Devotes $3 million to recruit, retain and train science and math teachers; and

Provides $2 million for intervention efforts in school districts declared “underperforming” by the state Board of Education.


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