[Source: Ray Parker, Arizona Republic] — Gilbert educators look to double the state money their schools receive for gifted programs if legislators follow through and for the first time in 15 years increase funding. There is strong support from state lawmakers to increase the current $1.3 million, or about $41 per student, for gifted education. That’s among the lowest in the nation.
Legislative leaders are discussing increasing gifted funding to $3.3 million. Gilbert Public Schools offers one of the few gifted programs for students younger than third grade and spends $1 million for the elementary grades, much more on gifted programs that it receives from state money. “Although the proposed legislation would more than double the grant that Gilbert receives, the increased amount would still be less than one tenth what Gilbert spends on salaries for gifted specialists, books and resources, and classroom space,” said Debbie Singleton, district Accelerated Learning Program and math coordinator. Any additional money would go toward teacher training and support for programs.
Gilbert’s accelerated program provides daily advanced math and/or language arts instruction in Grades 4-6. Students in Grades 1-3 participate in a one-hour pullout class every three days, when students perform science experiments, learn Algebraic concepts, and develop logical thinking skills.
“One misconception is that gifted students do just fine in the regular classroom, but we know they will not achieve a year’s growth without opportunities to learn material that some people would reserve for older students,” Singleton said. “Gifted students consume the curriculum at such a rapid pace that educators must constantly reassess what these students have learned, otherwise we run the risk of students coming to school each day but not learning anything new.”