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NASDC Grantees To Hammer Out Plan To Replicate Schools

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The New American Schools Development Corporation is planning to put out feelers to up to 40 jurisdictions this month to see if they are interested in replicating its designs on a broad scale, officials have indicated.

At a meeting held in Armonk, N.Y., this month, members of the nine design teams funded by NASDC agreed to have preliminary discussions with policymakers in states or school districts where they are working or think there is an interest in wide-scale change.

By 1995-96, NASDC officials would like to focus their efforts on a handful of jurisdictions where at least 30 percent of the schools would be engaged in restructuring. (See Education Week, June 8, 1994.)

Once the design teams have identified some potential sites, "we're going to invite them to participate, or to bid, somehow,'' said John L. Anderson, the president of NASDC. "But we haven't really worked that out yet.''

"The key is critical mass,'' Mr. Anderson added. "That's what's not been done before.''

The nonprofit corporation was founded by business leaders in 1991 to help underwrite the design and development of "break the mold'' schools. Last year, it received a $50 million gift from the philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg to foster the widespread replication of its designs.

Mr. Anderson said last week that at least some of the jurisdictions selected by NASDC probably would coincide with the metropolitan regions funded under the "Annenberg Challenge.'' As part of the largest private donation ever made to public education, Mr. Annenberg has pledged to focus his work on urban areas.

"It's in all our interests to see that whatever resources are available in a jurisdiction add up,'' said Mr. Anderson, noting that assistance could come from NASDC, the Annenberg Challenge, or the federal government.

This month's meeting, held at the headquarters of the International Business Machines Corporation, focused on the commonalities among the design teams and ways in which they might collaborate on such topics as technology and professional development.

Collaboration Urged

"There is a very healthy and vital spirit of cooperation and collaboration among the design teams that I think portends well for the future,'' Mr. Anderson observed.

Leaders of the design teams offered similar assessments.

"The theory is that if a significant number of schools in these jurisdictions change, it will bring about larger changes in succeeding years,'' said Wayne Jennings, a founder and co-manager of the Community Learning Centers design team.

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