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Boston Bank Sets $1.5-Million Endowment for City's Schools

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Boston--"A new educational alliance between the public and private sectors" was announced in Boston on Feb. 7 by William L. Brown, chairman of the Bank of Boston.

As the keystone of its 200th birthday celebration, the bank presented the city with a gift of $1.5 million to establish a permanent endowment fund, the income from which will be used to enhance the quality of education in Boston's public schools.

The endowment, said by the Council of Great City Schools to be the largest gift of its kind ever made to a public-school system in the United States, will be managed by the Permanent Charities Fund of Boston, which will seek to increase the fund through additional contributions from private and public sources.

An independent board of prominent business and community leaders will oversee the development and direction of the fund's activities.

The fund is called "The Boston Plan for Excellence in Public Schools." Its first priority, according to bank officials, will be to foster educational initiatives through the awarding of grants for particular projects in individual schools. Groups of teachers, parents, administrators, and students seeking support for innovative or special projects for a school's improvement may apply for a grant.

In commenting on the plan, Robert R. Spillane, superintendent of schools, said, "Not all good ideas emanate from the superintendent's office. ... Great ideas come from the talent that we have in the system." But he added that "the focus will be in the direction of the overall goals of the school system."

Mr. Brown said approximately $300,000 in grant money will be available to support up to 30 proposals each year. Initially, two types of grants are envisioned: large awards of up to $10,000 for schoolwide projects; and smaller "mini-grants" for individual teachers who wish to run special projects in the classroom.

Proposals will be screened by review committees made up of senior staff members from the school district, representatives of key constituency groups in the schools, and leaders of business and academic institutions that have already established working partnerships with the schools.

Like several other urban school systems, Boston has recently experienced cuts in financial support for experimental programs. The donors of the grant said they hoped the grant would stimulate groups of educators within schools to get together to think of ways to improve the quality of teaching, particularly in areas that create partnerships between the schools, the business community, and area colleges and universities.

Mayor Raymond L. Flynn said that with the bank's gift, "Public education is given the priority it deserves and the direction it so needs.''

The commemorative document establishing the endowment was signed with a quill pen in Boston's historic Old Statehouse in the presence of Gov. Michael J. Dukakis, the Mayor, and the city's educational leaders. According to Mr. Spillane, "It dramatically places the Bank of Boston and the Boston Public Schools in the very front rank nationally of public-private cooperative ventures to enhance the quality of education in this country."

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