2001-08-18 / Front Page

Magnet Grant For MS 180, PS 225 By Howard Schwach

Magnet Grant For MS 180, PS 225 By Howard Schwach

A federal grant that will bring $1,170,897.00 per year for the next three years may very well change the face of education in two Rockaway schools, according to a recent announcement by Congressman Anthony Weiner.

"Creating better options for Rockaway’s students is essential to the future of the peninsula," Weiner told The Wave. "I pledged to work for a magnet grant when I ran for office. I hope that this is the extra boost that MS 180 and PS 225 need to attract the best students, teachers and administrators."

Congress established the Magnet Assistance Program in 1999 to provide greater flexibility at the local level to improve racial balance in the schools, to introduce new educational practices and to implement quality classroom instruction.

Each of the schools will establish an "educational theme," and will develop a curriculum around that theme.

According to the grant proposal, PS 225 has chosen "Marine Studies" as its interdisciplinary theme, while MS 180 has chosen "Law and Forensic Studies" as its theme.

District 27 officials and local education advocates have been trying for years to procure a magnet grant for MS 180. The last grant attempt, three years ago, failed.

The hope was that the grant would stem the flow of students from Rockaway schools to private, parochial and Brooklyn magnet schools.

City Council Candidate Chris Jorge was one of those who has been in the battle for a magnet program from the beginning.

"The additional funds that we will get from this grant will go a long way in attracting good teachers and will bring the resources and programs that children need into the schools," Jorge said. "Equally important, however, is the implementation of quality programs. The primary objective is to make MS 180 and PS 225 viable academic options for the community."

Community School Board 27 president, Steve Greenberg, thinks that the grant can make a difference. Greenberg was the chairperson of the team that first envisioned a magnet grant for the school.

"I’m hopeful that the grant will make the schools more attractive to Rockaway students," Greenberg said.

"This is something that we have wanted for a long time and the community has been asking for. Now we have to reach out to the community and make sure that it gets the programs that it wants."

"Perhaps the grant well even help in attracting a new principal to MS 180," he added.

"We have to make sure that the way the money is used is program drive and that it filters down to the classroom."

Superintendent Matt Bromme, in his announcement of the grant, said, "I am pleased to announce this grant, which will improve the instructional programs in all of the schools that were selected."

Bromme says that the first year of the grant, the year beginning with the September, is a planning year.

School teams will work to finalize scope and sequence of their curriculum and will develop lessons to address those curriculums.

The district has not yet received the document that would set up the rules for implementing the grant.

Deputy Superintendent Martin Weinstein, however, says that he expects to receive the document shortly, "perhaps later this week."

In addition to the Rockaway team of MS 180 and PS 225, there are two mainland middle schools, MS 202 and MS 137, a school that will not open until September of 2002. The mainland public schools that will be involve in the grant are PS 63 and PS 124.

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