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Urban Training: Urban school boards across the country can get training through a new academy formed just for them.

The National School Boards Foundation, part of the Alexandria, Va.-based National School Boards Association, will use a $50,000 grant from the Wallace- Reader's Digest Funds and support from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government to establish the program.

For More Information

More information about the Urban School Boards initiative is available from the National School Boards Foundation.

It will be called the Institute for Urban School Board Leadership, and will aim to identify best practices and write case studies, design training and curricula based on those practices, and hold workshops for teams in four yet-to- be-selected pilot districts.

Teams will consist of the superintendent, board members, and principalsall of whom the program's developers hope will come away with a comprehensive agenda for school improvement in their communities.

"It will increase the capacity of urban school leaders to develop and implement concrete strategies for student achievement and community involvement," said Leah Burns-Atkins, the executive director of the foundation.

Ms. Burns-Atkins said the foundation wants to learn more about how urban school leaders can work together to address the problems of improving schools in big cities and edge-of- city urban areas. With many suburbs taking on urban traits, the definition of urban districts is changing, and the need for well-prepared leaders is as important as ever, she said.

What is learned from the training sessions and case studies will be used to draw up a menu of training opportunities for use in many urban districts.

The foundation is searching for districts that might be interested in participating. District leaders would have to agree to the training. And more than the four pilot districts may be involved if the foundation can find more funding, Ms. Burns-Atkins said.

The project is guided by principles outlined in a 1999 report issued by the foundation, "Leadership Matters: Transforming Urban School Boards." It urged urban districts to get parents and the public more directly involved in school improvement.

—Alan Richard [email protected]

Vol. 20, Issue 43, Page 16

Published in Print: August 8, 2001, as Leadership

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