Glendale Unified pursues federal grant to expand number of magnet schools

Glendale school officials are vying for a new federal grant to turn existing neighborhood schools into magnet sites.

Under a new grant competition, the U.S. Department of Education will divvy up more than $96 million for districts to create magnet schools, but Glendale Unified officials say just 40 districts could win.

District officials estimate schools would win an average of $2.5 million to spend each year for three years.

In 2010, Glendale schools won a similar grant worth more than $7.4 million, which helped transform Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Keppel elementary schools into technology, foreign language and visual and performing arts magnets, respectively.

Officials have not settled on which campuses would be targeted for the change, but have said Roosevelt Middle School and Cerritos Elementary each elected to take on a new magnet status long before the grant became available.

This time around, Glendale Unified can be more competitive by creating magnets that assume a science, technology, engineering and math theme.

Roosevelt and Cerritos would enlist that theme, and add arts into the fold as well.

For years, Roosevelt has partnered with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA and executed a comprehensive robotics program.

The school would build on those traits Principal Mary Mason said, and potentially create a digital animation studio.

Cerritos Elementary Principal Cynthia McCarty said a new potential focus at Cerritos could be math, since the school’s testing data shows Cerritos students thrive in that subject.

The school could also establish relationships with museums to educate students, she added.

At both school sites, more than 80% of students receive free or reduced lunches — a figure that could contribute to the district’s chances of winning.

“We serve a community where many of these students may not have these opportunities out of this school,” McCarty said.

Districts that recruit students into magnets from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds would also stand a greater chance of winning.

Up to 400 more students could attend Roosevelt on top of the current 820 neighborhood students, Mason said.

Grant winners could be notified by July, officials said.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan


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