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Creator of 'Tesseract' Method Offers Stock Shares to Public

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Education Alternatives Inc., the Minneapolis-based firm best known for its "Tesseract" method of teaching, went public last month by putting 1.5 million shares on the stock market, hoping to capitalize on a growing national enthusiasm for the "New American Schools" concept advanced by the Bush Administration.

By last week, the company had raised $6 million, according to its chairman and chief executive officer, John T. Golle.

On April 25, the first day of trading, stocks opened at $4 a share on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (nasdaq) national market. That day, the stock closed at $5 a share and were trading at $4 last Thursday.

The company had two reasons for going public, according to John R. Tomlinson, Education Alternative's chief financial officer.

The company currently is receiving serious inquiries from two to three school districts a week, he said. To take advantage of that burgeoning interest, the company must raise more than the $10 million it has already invested in curriculum development and other education services, Mr. Golle said.

Such services range from running private schools in Eagan, Minn., and Paradise Valley, Ariz., to contracting with school dis4tricts for the joint development of public schools such as South Pointe Elementary School in Dade County, Fla., which opens next fall. (See Education Week, June 6, 1990.)

Second, because a significant portion of its revenues will come from public schools, Mr. Tomlinson said the company should be opened to public investment and the regulations that govern publicly traded stock.

Such regulations by the Securities and Exchange Commission prevented company officers from detailing their current discussions, but Mr. Golle did say talks were well underway with 12 districts, three or four of which could announce consulting deals by next month.

Mr. Golle confirmed reports that the Baltimore school district could be three weeks away from finalizing a consulting contract with the company, but he refused to give further details.

The Tesseract system--which has been cited by the U.S. Education Department as an innovative approach--is built around customized instruction that prevents children from "falling through the cracks"; active, rather than passive, learning; requiring students to master skills before moving on; parental involvement; and extended-day and summer-school programs.--jw

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