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7 Schools Get Grants for Reading Projects

March 30, 2000|ZANTO PEABODY

Los Angeles school board member Valerie Fields presented $14,000 in grants Thursday to seven schools to expand their reading programs.

The awards of $2,000 each, presented at a news conference at Wilbur Avenue Elementary School in Tarzana, fund literacy aids ranging from a Shakespeare book series adapted for elementary-age children to take-home puppets corresponding to characters in schoolbooks.

Fields anticipates awarding $30,000 in grants this year to 16 schools with innovative literacy initiatives. The program, now in its second year, distributes discretionary funds from the budget of District 4, which covers part of the west San Fernando Valley.

Before the grants, "a teacher would call and say she needed a bus to go to the Music Center," Fields said. "By the time the request would get to the right person and the bus was approved, whatever was going on at the Music Center would be over. So [the school board] gave us discretionary funds to do things like this, put the money in projects that directly help the students."

The Puppets as Literacy Partners program at Fullbright Avenue Elementary School in Canoga Park will allow home interaction with classwork for 60 first- and second-graders from the campus, where more than half the students are learning English as a second language. The students write stories based on the puppets and share them with their parents at home.

"In fact, children will be able to take puppets home along with a high-interest storybook on a weekly basis," Broc Coward, a Fields representative, said. "And parents will be invited to attend a puppet show each month."

Richard Hickcox, principal at Wilbur, is combining his school's grant with a $7,000 Annenberg Foundation grant to buy two computers and software so students can evaluate and track their reading comprehension progress.

At Welby Way Elementary School in West Hills, the money will be used for historical, mythical, poetry and other books with cultural themes that target a diverse student population. Other schools receiving grants Thursday were Calvert Street in Woodland Hills, Chatsworth Park in Chatsworth, Pomelo Drive in West Hills and Thoreau Continuation High School in Woodland Hills.

To earn the grants, schools appealed to a committee made up of parents and community advisors in District 4. The grants program, Fields said, has funneled more than $100,000 to district campuses since it began just over a year ago.

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