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ERIC Merger Plan May Be Scrapped

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WASHINGTON--The Education Department will likely scrap its plan to consolidate 2 of the existing 16 clearinghouses in the Educational Resources Information Centers network, a department official said last week.

James Bencivenga, a spokesman for the office of educational research and improvement, said the department would probably not follow through on its plan to merge the teacher-education clearinghouse with the counseling- and personnel-services center.

"In the grand scheme of things, we were persuaded to relook at what we did,'' he said.

In addition to the merger, the department proposed in March that a clearinghouse on statistics be created and that a marketing and promotion arm, called ACCESS ERIC, be established. Comment on the proposal was sought until April 24, and officials are expected to announce the system's final configuration this week.

Mr. Bencivenga said the other parts of the proposal, including name changes for several of the clearinghouses, would probably remain intact.

He added that there may have to be some "shrinkage'' in the clearinghouses to pay for ACCESS ERIC, which has a projected $500,000 budget--$200,000 more than the funding increase requested by the department for the entire ERIC system.

Last month, 18 members of the Congress sent a letter to the department asking that the plan to merge the two centers be withdrawn. O.E.R.I. staff members have since met with Congressional aides to discuss the proposal.--E.F.

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