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Mindful of the decline of public confidence in education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals is encouraging its members to improve their relations with the media.

A one-page tipsheet, entitled "Working With--Not Against--the Media," observes that mutual distrust and poor communication may underlie the frequent complaint by educators that media coverage of schools is overwhelmingly negative.

The association advises principals to look for "grabbers"--special events or human-interest ideas--that will entice reporters and photographers to the schools. But, the association warns, stories should be ''built on a solid curriculum base." The group also counsels principals to be candid about bad news. "Chances are it will come out anyway,'' the flyer says.

To beat the high rent in the pricey Georgetown section of Washington, the National School Boards Association plans to construct its own headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The new site is a short ride away from downtown Washington and Capitol Hill via rapid transit.

nsba will occupy most of the $6-million building, according to Jerry Floyd, associate executive director. But about 20 percent of the space will be rented out.

Mr. Floyd said the association hopes to finance the project with industrial-revenue bonds available through the city and the state of Virginia. Otherwise, he added, "We'll borrow--if we can find it."

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