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E.D. Scraps Plan To Reconfigure ERIC Network

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The Education Department has abandoned several controversial proposals to revamp the Educational Resources Information Centers network, a department official confirmed last week.

However, the department will proceed with its plan to create a marketing and promotional arm called ACCESS ERIC, said Edward Darrell, a spokesman for the department's office of educational research and improvement.

Plans to merge two of the 16 centers and to change the names of some centers, opposed by center directors and several members of the Congress, have been scrapped, Mr. Darrell said.

The subject area covered by each of the centers, which are organized by educational specialty, will also be maintained.

In addition, Mr. Darrell said, the Education Department no longer intends to draw some of the funding for ACCESS ERIC from the budget supporting existing clearinghouses.

ACCESS ERIC Budget

The new entity, designed to make the research network accessible to a wider audience, has a projected $500,000 budget--$200,000 more than the funding increase requested by the department for the entire system.

"We are looking at various sources, but not the fiscal year 1988 clearinghouse budget, to support ACCESS ERIC,'' Mr. Darrell explained.

The department, as planned, will house a new ERIC center specializing in education statistics in its existing statistics branch, and initiate a program aimed at soliciting participation in the ERIC system by private organizations and institutions.

Organizations can either become "adjunct clearinghouses,'' which will collect and disseminate materials at their own expense in areas that ERIC does not now cover, or "ERIC Partners,'' which will publicize the system and distribute materials from the centers to its constituents.

The final plan for ERIC will be published by mid-June as part of an announcement soliciting bids for new contracts to run the clearinghouses, which are now housed primarily on college campuses.
--J.M.

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