SANTA ANA : District Give Grant to Cut Dropout Rate

The Santa Ana Unified School District received a $6-million federal grant this week that will be used to reduce the dropout rate by restructuring programs at five schools.

The three-year grant, awarded to 15 school districts nationwide, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. Santa Ana schools that will benefit from the grant are Century High School, Carr, Lathrop and Willard intermediate schools and Franklin Elementary School.

At Franklin elementary, the money will be used to initiate a full-day kindergarten class and lower the student-teacher ratio to 15 to 1 in first- and second-grade language arts classes. "Ungraded" language arts classrooms in which students are grouped by ability will also be initiated for third- through fifth-grade students.

The intermediate schools will use the grant to establish one-on-one tutoring for students identified as "at-risk" of dropping out, family counseling services and a monitoring system for at-risk students' attendance patterns.

At the high school level, school officials will begin working with intermediate school parents to implement an early identification and tracking system for at-risk students. The school will be able to hire a part-time psychologist and intervention specialist.

The district will also use the grant to hire personnel, including language arts teachers, bilingual instructional assistants, early childhood teachers, a nurse, an outreach consultant and family counselors.

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