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March 12, 2002
Section: Local News

Canton City to go after share of $31M grant
Repository education writer

CANTON � Superintendent Dianne Talarico says Canton City Schools will seek some of the $31.5 million in grant money three private foundations have awarded to Ohio to improve urban education.
�You bet,� said Talarico. �As soon as the request for proposals comes out, we will be responding.�

�It certainly would fit in with where we�re going,� said Richard Milligan, Canton City Board of Education member, Monday.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Cincinnati are contributing the funds to help improve urban education across the state.

The foundations made the formal announcement Monday at Timken High School at a ceremony which also included remarks by U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and leaders of state education associations.

The Gates foundation and KnowledgeWorks will contribute $25 million to create small, focused high schools and to restructure large high schools into smaller learning environments in four to six of Ohio�s 21 urban school districts.

Another $6.5 million will flow to Project GRAD Ohio, which aims to boost graduation rates by focusing on early reading, writing and math skills; providing scholarships; and fostering involvement by parents and social services providers.

Talarico said Canton could use the money to expand the Freshman Academy � which next year will serve all district ninth-graders � as well as to enhance and strengthen the other four academies at the Timken campus.

�We want to (give) ... all the teachers in those academies ... the same professional development opportunities that the teachers at the Freshman Academy had,� she said.

She said the district also is considering piloting a smaller learning community within McKinley High School.

Taft called the grant funds �innovation money.�

�We�re going to focus on selected school districts across the state and create a model� for other districts to duplicate, he said.

Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education for the Gates foundation, said parents are more involved, students learn better and are safer, and graduation rates are higher in smaller schools.

�You�ve got a great start on it right here in Canton� with the Freshman Academy, said Wick. The academy was built around the concept of smaller learning communities, personalized instruction and innovative teaching techniques.

KnowledgeWorks will administer the grants and accept funding proposals from interested school districts.

Vander Ark said the programs will require funding partners at the community and state levels.

�It�s going to take all of us to make this happen,� he said.

Local educators were enthusiastic.

�It�s fantastic,� said Larry Morgan, superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center.

You can reach Repository education writer Susan R. Schell at (330) 580-8339 or e-mail:

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