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New York City Obtains Grant for 'Corridor Schools'

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A New York City plan to establish a comprehensive "educational pathway" that will enable students to advance successfully from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade has received a pledge of $1 million from a private foundation to cover planning and development costs.

The initiative, called the "corridor school program," has several components designed to establish 16 pilot schools as "community centers" offering a wide range of social, educational, and health services.

Participating schools would be open for community use from early morning to late evening on most days of the year.

They would be grouped in clusters of four schools, including a middle school and the three elementary schools from which they draw their students.

The project calls for parents, teachers, and community groups to design the programs to be offered in each cluster of four schools. Parents will also be given the option of choosing from among what planners hope will be a variety of educational offerings, ranging from those that feature a back-to-basics approach to those stressing Montessori-style learning.

The initiative was first unveiled in the 1990 budget proposal of Schools Chancellor Richard R. Green, but its fate has remained uncertain due to fiscal constraints that are expected to dampen the prospects of new initiatives.

The grant last month from the Aaron Diamond Foundation, Mr. Green said, ensures that the corridor program "will become a working reality.'' The total cost of the project's three-year implementation at the 16 schools is estimated at $12 million.

The foundation grant will underwrite an 18-month planning process,8during which half of the system's 32 community districts will each be awarded a $20,000 grant to develop proposals that meet the program's criteria.

Final selection of the four winning proposals is scheduled to take place in February 1990, with full-scale implementation in the 16 schools slated for the 1990-91 school year.

The five goals of the program, school officials said, are to:

Make students the most important people in the school.

Make schools into community centers for the neighborhood.

Make neighbors, including businesses and community groups, welcome partners in planning.

Make parents the ones to decide which schools their children will attend.

Make teachers and supervisors the undisputed key to educational excellence.--ws

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