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School Wins Grant for Its Innovation : Education: Marshall High's new 'self-management' plan earns a $713,000 award from RJR Nabisco's Next Century Schools program.

April 25, 1991|ROD WADE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Marshall High School in Los Feliz is one of 15 schools nationwide to receive a $713,000 grant from RJR Nabisco that cited innovation and leadership in the school's new self-management program.

Marshall will receive approximately $235,000 a year for the next three years as part of Nabisco's Next Century Schools program designed to encourage positive changes in public education.

Marshall Principal Deborah Leidner said a good percentage of the funds will be used to help train teachers in the school's planned peer coaching program, which will pair teachers with mentor-observers who will offer suggestions aimed at improving their skills.

Leidner said the funds will help pay for substitute teachers to replace those being trained.

Some of the funds will also be used to extend library and classroom hours as part of Marshall's lighted school program, in which the campus is open and available beyond the traditional school day, making it more community-oriented, Leidner said.

"We have so many non-traditional family groups today that more has to be done to draw the community to Marshall," Leidner said. "Our parent and guardian involvement program is designed to make these people aware of the new programs being implemented at Marshall."

Other programs that may be funded under the grant include a "house concept," in which students will spend their years at Marshall in groups with low teacher-to-student ratios. In addition, some of the funds may be used for a business and community services linkage program to provide students with internships and bring traditional community services such as child care and language classes onto the campus.

"This is just the beginning," Leidner said. "We still have a long way to go, but the grant will allow us to get there quicker and on a larger scale."

The competition drew 1,600 applications this year, more than 200 coming from California. RJR Nabisco spokeswoman Tracey Riese said Marshall was selected because its new management program, in which parents, teachers and students decide how money is to be spent on school programs, showed innovation and leadership and already had an implementation schedule. The program will take effect in August.

"We also look for a shared commitment from parents and the community to help support the program," Riese said. "Marshall's program meets this key requirement."

Marshall was one of three California public schools selected by Nabisco to receive the grant. The company has pledged more than $30 million toward improving public education over the next five years.

"We thought school-based management would take five years to fully implement," said Barbara Knight, chairwoman of the shared decision-making council, which established the school-based program, and who helped author the plan selected by Nabisco. "But with this grant, we can get there next year."

The Los Angeles Unified School District accepted Marshall's school-based management proposal last year. Leidner said it would have started whether or not Marshall received the grant.

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