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Leaders Struggle To Recoup $14.5 Million Education Grant

September 20, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Science Foundation has withdrawn a $14.5 million grant for math and science education to schools in the nation’s capital because of allegations of mismanagement by school officials.

The foundation alleged this week that unqualified officials had been selected to run the program. The foundation had awarded the city $18.5 million and $4 million of it already has been spent.

The city’s financial control board is seeking a meeting with the foundation to try and win back the funds.

Control board spokesman Mark Goldstein said, ``We are planning to see if there is any way the grant could be reinstated under different conditions.″

He said the five-member board, created by Congress to oversee the city’s troubled finances, is willing to administer the money for the school system.

The National Science Foundation questioned the city’s ability to run the program effectively, citing poor performance and falling student test scores. The grant, first issued in 1995, gave the District of Columbia more money than any other city in the country.

City leaders said losing the grant is a setback.

``I’m upset but I’m more saddened. Our children are deficient in those areas. It is one of those unique opportunities that would have put them on a level playing field,″ said control board member Joyce Ladner, who oversees education issues for the panel.

The withdrawal of the grant is just the latest blow to the school system. More than two weeks after schools opened, four schools remain closed because of fire code violations. The control board is reviewing the system’s problems and has said it may replace administrators.

The science foundation grant had been paying dividends, said Helena Jones, principal of Roper Middle School.

She said her school used the money to train teachers to make science and math fun. ``It’s inspiring to watch the way teachers have been able to utilize the training they have received,″ Jones said.

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