LA: Lagging schools share cash

Lagging schools share cash
Grants for before- and after-school programs
By Lisa M. Sodders, Staff Writer

Los Angeles Daily News
May 26 2004

Forty-seven low-performing schools in Los Angeles Unified —
including just four in the San Fernando Valley — will share $27
million in federal grants awarded to California schools for before-
and after-school programs, officials said Tuesday.

The federal grants were awarded by the State Department of Education
under the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which
seeks to establish or expand community learning centers for students
at low-achieving or high-poverty schools.

“I’m thrilled,” said Joanna Kunes, principal at Madison Middle School
in North Hollywood, one of the schools selected for the grant. “This
is so welcome in this climate of budget-reductions. It couldn’t come
at a better time.”

The other three Valley schools were: Haddon, Sharp Avenue and Bertrand
elementary schools.

LAUSD will receive about $6.2 million from the grant, said John
Liechty, associate superintendent for the LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell
branch, which handles after-school enrichment programs.

Madison, a 2,200-student school, is 70 percent Hispanic and 20 percent
Armenian, and has a 300-student health and medical careers magnet
program, Kunes said. About half of the students are English-language
learners and about 93 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Kunes has not been told how much Madison will receive, but she said
the grant money will be used to support a variety of mentoring and
enrichment programs, including computer labs and art classes.

The money will also go toward tutoring to help students meet the
state’s math, science and reading requirements, the education
department said in a statement.

Most of the schools that received the grants are considered Program
Improvement Schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, said
Kevin Brown, manager of the after-school partnership office in the
California Department of Education.

Program Improvement Schools are those that have not met their student
achievement goals for the past two consecutive years.

“Local law enforcement and the FBI strongly support after-school
programs because they help to reduce dropout rates and time spent in
unhealthy behaviors such as drug use and gang activity,” U.S. Sen.
Barbara Boxer (D-California), author of the federal law providing
funding for after-school programs, said in the statement released by
the education department.