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Foundation Grants $9.7 Million to 15 'Next Century' Schools

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The R.J.R. Nabisco Foundation last week unveiled the 1991 winners of its "Next Century Schools" competition, awarding a total of more than $9.7 million to 15 public schools to fund wholesale reform efforts.

Selected from more than 1,600 applicants, the winners from 14 states will receive three-year grants worth a maximum of $750,000.

The awards represent the second round of grants under a $30-million program that is one of the most extensive corporate initiatives aimed at improving schools. (See Education Week, Nov. 1, 1989.)

Applicants were judged by a 17-member panel of educators, policymakers, and business leaders, including Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas; David T. Kearns, chairman of the Xerox Corporation, who has been selected as U.S. deputy secretary of education; and Theodore R. Sizer of Brown University, chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

The winners include:

Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Mass., awarded $704,550 to create the "Pathways School," which will offer a full slate of classes from 2:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. for students who must work, care for children, or have other obligations. Additional courses will focus on drug addiction, family dysfunction, abuse, and parenting.

Denali Elementary School in Fairbanks, Alaska, which was granted $748,500 to create an outcome-based mathematics and science curriculum, using outdoor instruction and hands-on learning experiences, a two-week summer science program, and in-depth teacher training. Courses will pay special attention to Alaska's cultural heritage.

Paul Dunbar High School in Baltimore, which received $657,957 to develop weekend study programs with community mentors and peer tutors, a Dunbar Summer Scholars accelerated-learning project, a faculty- and curriculum-development institute, and parent-outreach efforts.

Franklin Junior High School in Brainerd, Minn., which was given $566,200 to extend the class day, week, and year, and establish a system of parental involvement that will include classroom visits, cable-television shows, and an electronic-mail system. Students will be clustered with the same teachers and peers during their time at the two-year rural school, and traditional grades will replaced by an A, B, or Incomplete to help assure student mastery of coursework.

John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, which was granted $713,261 to become a "lighted" school, open for educational and community activities beyond the traditional school day. Councils of students, faculty, parents, and community members will be responsible for innovations during and after the school day.

Morgan County Primary School in Madison, Ga., which was granted $274,957 to hire and train parents to go house to house, teaching other parents how to facilitate their children's learning. The school will also open a family-learning center for parent-education seminars and support groups.

Orem High School in Orem, Utah, which received $749,500 to abandon science and math textbooks and lectures in favor of interactive, computer-based technologies, to be developed in conjunction with Brigham Young University.

Ortega Elementary School in Austin, Tex., which earned $744,018 to develop interdisciplinary-learning laboratories in science, math, literature, computers, music, art, and gymnastics. The school day will be expanded by 45 minutes, and after-school and homework labs will be added.

The other recipients are:

Pepperell Intermediate School in Opelika, Ala., which was granted $750,000 to develop "Project Space," with an extended school day and year and enhanced community outreach. The school will develop a new "galaxy," or learning environment, in which students will work within "dimensions." As students reach plateaus in their learning, they move to the next dimension instead of waiting for a full school year to end. Oral progress conferences will replace report cards, and textbooks will give way to a variety of printed materials and technological tools.

Piscataquis Community School in Guilford, Me., which was given $570,993 to eliminate tracking and develop accelerated English, math, and science curricula. Teaching4will be interdisciplinary, and assessment will judge course mastery with portfolios, projects, and demonstrations.

Rancho Viejo Elementary School in Yuma, Ariz., which will use $322,733 to send a van into the community to provide various learning experiences for children and parents in low-income Hispanic neighborhoods.

Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, Calif., which was granted $708,000 to develop an integrated-studies program both in the classroom and the community, using community-outreach projects to demonstrate human needs present in the San Francisco area.

John A. Snively Elementary School in Winter Haven, Fla., was awarded $750,000 to extend the8school day to 210 days, with a schoolwide core curriculum and integrated teaching units. A family resource center will offer adult education, and teachers will make home visits to assure that parents and children are learning together.

Union House Elementary School in Sacramento received $731,950 to develop a curriculum based on nine multidisciplinary themes, extend the school day, and enhance community involvement in the school.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Elementary School in Winston Salem, N.C., was given $750,000 to develop a new school for 360 children ages 3 to 11 in an abandoned warehouse near an R.J.R. Nabisco plant. The school will be open 11 hours a day, all year long.

The Next Century Schools competition will offer its final round of grants next year.

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