Grants to boost Wallkill science labs

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All three Wallkill elementary schools are set to receive upgrades to their science labs after the district secured a new round of grant funding from the office of Assemblyman Kevin Cahill for the Science Lab Initiative II program. The Wallkill Board of Education accepted the $60,000 in funding during its meeting on Feb. 21.

The program is designed to allow local school districts to create state-of-the-art science labs. “Two years ago Assemblyman Cahill secured a grant that allowed us to create the ZSpace Lab at the high school,” Wallkill Superintendent Kevin Castle explained. “This is the second phase to that. He has awarded our three elementary schools $20,000 each to upgrade our science labs. You can get technology, supplies, lab equipment, things of that nature. It’s a partnership with SUNY New Paltz, with the Benjamin Center, so they are the ones who secure those supplies and then they provide them to the school district.”

Additional school districts within the 103rd Legislative Assembly District also received the grant money, and considering the results of the program so far, the superintendent expects the funds to pay dividends once they’re dispersed to the Wallkill schools. “Based on what we’ve seen at the high school and how it enhanced learning with the ZSpace Lab, we’ll be seeing the same thing at the elementary level,” Castle said. “We could also do robotics if we wanted to. We could purchase supplies of that nature. It’s science-related equipment, which includes engineering. So we’re really excited about receiving this money. In regards to the timeline, there’s nothing established yet. Our elementary principals are designing a scope in regards to what they are looking to do in order to enhance our labs. So once we have that, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re looking for.”

During Thursday’s meeting at Leptondale Elementary, the board approved the hiring of Nicole Parete as the district’s new Coordinator of Special Education. Formerly of the Children’s Home of Kingston, Parete is replacing Bridget Becker, who resigned from the post to take a position with another school district. “We’re really looking forward to adding her as part of our team,” Castle said of Parete. “She’s a very caring individual. She cares about kids, and particularly in that position it’s important that we have someone who understands the challenges that kids may have who have a disability, along with assisting parents with working with their children. She clearly came across as an individual who would do that.”

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