Staff at four schools in the running for cash.

The entire staffs of four schools, including Blackham and Edison in Bridgeport, Franklin in Stratford and Marvin in Norwalk are finalists in the Fifth Annual Fairfield County Academic Gain Award Ceremony.

 Sponsored by the Lone Pine Foundation Inc., the award seeks to  break the cycle of poverty through education. The winner will be announced November 1, 2011 at 5pm. in the GenRe Auditorium, University of Connecticut in Stamford.

The award is designed to acknowledge the public elementary schools in Fairfield County that make the greatest academic gain in student achievement, create incentive for other schools to work towards their own progress and share the effective practices used by these high achieving schools.

 Every full-time employee of the winning school in the 2010-2011 academic year will receive $500. Full-time employees of the other three schools will receive $250.  Part time employees will receive half the amount of their colleagues at each school. In addition, all finalist schools  receive $1,000 to be used at their own discretion towards academic gain.

Since the program began, seven Bridgeport schools have been finalists in the competition but yet to capture the top prize.

  Jamie Palladino, current Principal of Ridgebury Elementary School in Ridgefield and former Principal of the 2010 Fairfield County Academic Gain Award Winner Second Hill Lane Elementary School in Stratford, will be speaking at the ceremony about the ingredients that go into the recipe for effective schools in Fairfield County.

The Lone Pine Foundation, Inc. is a private foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut funded by the employees of Lone Pine Capital LLC.  Stephen F. Mandel Jr. who founded the company and foundation, is a Greenwich hedge-fund billionaire who appeared to have played a behind-the-scene role in the state takeover of the Bridgeport school board earlier this year. An employee of  Mandel spent six months lobbying for the takeover, telling the state board of education chairman “Should the State Department of Education act to intervene, there is excellent private partnership to be activated.” Thus far, no such partnership has been announced.

Linda Lambeck