Monday, April 08, 2002

Grants provide extras in Cleveland schools

Money pays for field trips, programs, retreats

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Grants from foundations, the state and federal governments, and individuals pumped $85 million into Ohio's largest public school system last year, helping to fund classroom extras with items such as karaoke-theme reading programs.

        An MBNA Foundation grant to Buhrer Elementary School provided a $5,513 karaoke machine that encourages children to read song lyrics.

        “We're doing literacy work in terms of music,” said Janis Arnold, principal at Buhrer. “It's a fun thing they enjoy, being able to sing songs and increase their reading skills.”

        Foundations have provided more than $12 million in grants to Cleveland schools over the last three years. Donations paid extras for such items as trips to the Cleveland Orchestra and amusement parks and specialized teacher training.

        Grants totaling $200,000 last year were set aside for Chief Executive Barbara Byrd-Bennett to spend at her discretion. She used the foundation money to pay for expenses including retreats, conferences and consultants.

        Many programs exist at Cleveland schools only because of grants from private donors and governments, said Linda Prosak, the district's director of institutional advancement.

        A $110,000 grant from the George Gund Foundation pays the salary and office expenses for Ms. Prosak, who spends her time pursuing grants. She joined the district three months ago from Cleveland State University.

        In the 2001 fiscal year, Cleveland schools got $85.1 million in grants for special programs: $5.5 million from foundations and individuals, $68 million from the state and $11.6 million from federal agencies.

        The grant money was more than 12 percent of the district's $670 million operating budget.

        The figure doesn't include money awarded to groups that help the district and its students, such as the Cleveland Initiative for Education, the Cleveland Scholarship Program and the Cleveland Education Fund.


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