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At a time when many school budgets won't even cover the basics, Beverly McCormick, the principal of Pershing Intermediate School 220 in New York City, has learned to be creative.

Like most administrators, she has a vision of excellence for her students. But she long ago realized that to achieve that excellence, she would have to find ways to come up with the money.

In that, Ms. McCormick has succeeded to a degree few educators can match. Over the last couple of years, she has snared for her Brooklyn middle school more than $200,000, most of it from grants.

Grant fever has spread throughout the school. Just about everyone in the building knows to keep an eye open for even the smallest grants, Ms. McCormick said.

Why does her school pull in grant money that others miss? "We read the newspapers, surf the Internet, and ask everyone."

The funds provide for things like professional development for teachers, a health and wellness program for students, and materials for curriculum development.

Most recently, the school won a $55,060 gift from mips Technologies Inc., a computer-chip company based in Mountain View, Calif. In a nationwide search for a school that would benefit most from a corporate donation, the company asked educators to explain in 60 words or less what their schools needed.

Ms. McCormick said that, though many schools made a strong case, "our need was so very basic--bookcases, chairs, desks." The school will use the grant to replace worn-out equipment for its 1,433 students and 120 staff members.

The first woman to head the National Catholic Educational Association has said she will retire. Sister Catherine T. McNamee, who has been the president of the organization for the past decade, will leave at the end of June. The Washington-based group has named Leonard DeFiore, the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., as its new president. ... The American Association of School Administrators has named Janet N. Barry the 1996 National Superintendent of the Year. Ms. Barry is the chief administrator of the 13,100-student Central Kitsap School District in Silverdale, Wash.

--Adrienne D. Coles

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