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Published in Print: January 20, 1999, as Gore Lays Out Proposal for School Designs

Gore Lays Out Proposal for School Designs

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Washington

Vice President Al Gore has outlined a $10 million grant proposal aimed at helping districts design better, more community-oriented schools as part of his new "Livability Agenda."

The so-called Community-Centered Schools grants would help districts create schools that would serve as anchors for neighborhoods or larger areas and play host to community activities after school hours.

The grants, which would be administered by the Department of Education, will be included in President Clinton's upcoming fiscal 2000 budget plan.

The broader "livability" program unveiled last week is a $1 billion initiative to, as Mr. Gore put it, "help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth."

About 150 to 200 school design grants would be awarded the first year, ranging from $40,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the district.

The money could be used to incorporate parents and community members into the design process to help "bring a fresh wave of creativity," and more cost efficiency, into the design process, Mr. Gore said last week.

Republican congressional leaders, meanwhile, remain skeptical of new programs in the face of tight constraints on federal spending overall under the balanced-budget plan that lawmakers and the Clinton administration agreed to in 1997. The GOP-controlled Congress would have to approve the livability and design initiatives.

"On the surface, it sounds like a good plan, but we wonder what [the president] intends to cut to pay for this increase," said Elizabeth Morra, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee.

But the Education Department has made federal funding for school construction, and now, school design, a legislative priority.

The department showcased innovative school designs in a national symposium it co-sponsored with the American Institute of Architects in October.

--Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 18, Issue 19, Page 20

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