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Manchester school district wins $300k Barr grant; money to be used to redevelop West High

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 08. 2017 10:48PM
Manchester High School West (UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER — The city school district is one of eight grantees chosen from a pool of 31 applicants across New England to receive a grant from the Barr Grant Foundation to redevelop a local school.

The grant, which school officials confirm is for $300,000, will be used to redesign Manchester High School West.

The Education Program of the Barr Grant Foundation announced in March a “Preparing for Post-Secondary Success Through the Wider Learning Ecosystem” request for proposals (RFP).

According to Jenny Curtin, senior officer for the education program at Barr, the goal of the RFP was to “identify existing public New England high schools that are committed to engaging in a deep planning and capacity building phase to redesign their school model to transcend the school walls and blend the lines between school, college, career, and the community in order to help all students develop the competencies required for a 21st-century definition of student success.”

The Manchester school district, along with community partners including Catholic Medical Center, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the University of New Hampshire, responded last spring to the RFP.

Last week, school officials learned they were one of eight planning and design phase grantees, representing 11 high schools across New England. All of the grantees “are committed to redesigning their high school model to meet the identified needs of their students and communities,” Curtin said.

“They also have a vision for a public high school model that utilizes evidence-based strategies and practices to provide students with credit-bearing learning opportunities in the wider learning ecosystem that includes the myriad educational, business, and non-profit organizations within the surrounding communities,” Curtin said in a statement. “Rather than peripheral programs, these learning experiences in the ecosystem will be central components of the schools’ programs of study.”

“We are committed to redesign the West High School model to meet the needs of our students with the support and meaningful engagement of the entire community,” wrote Supt. of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas in an email announcing the grant.

In addition to West High School, the other seven grantees are:

• Boston Educational Development Fund, Inc., Boston, for the redesign of TechBoston Academy;

• Center for Collaborative Education, Boston, for the redesign of Somerville High School.

• Great Schools Partnership, Inc., Portland, Maine, for the redesign of North County Union High School (Vt.), Blackstone Academy Charter School (R.I.), and Nokomis Regional High School (Maine);

• Manchester Public Schools, Manchester, Conn., for the redesign of Manchester High School;

• New Haven Ecology Project, Inc., New Haven, Conn., for the redesign of Common Ground High School;

• Providence After School Alliance, Inc., Providence, R.I., for the redesign of 360 High School and Juanita Sanchez High School; and

• Winooski School District, Winooski, Vt., for the redesign of Winooski Middle High School.

Grants range in size from $225,000 to $860,000, for up to two years of planning and design work. Manchester will receive a grant of $300,000, according to Andrea Alley, school district communications coordinator.

“New England has done a good job for many students, but we believe we can do a great job for all,” Curtin said in a statement. “Innovative high school models that are responsive to students’ interests and needs, as well as the expectations of the world beyond the school walls, can help all students navigate a path to post-secondary success. These models can address readiness gaps and promote successful post-secondary transitions.”

Education Manchester

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