California seeds high-tech schools

Legislation establishing the High-Tech Schools Grant Program

California has created a $20 million grant program to help foster 10 new high-tech high schools during the next two years.

The schools would emphasize science, mathematics and engineering as well as digital arts and media, according to the legislation establishing the High-Tech High School Grant Program. The legislation was signed by Gov. Gray Davis Oct. 11.

High-tech high schools aren't a new concept in the state. About five years ago, the city of Napa created New Technology High School (, and last year, San Diego unveiled the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High ( Both public schools were established to provide students with more rigorous academic and workplace training and better prepare them for life in an increasingly technological society.

Although California has provided funding to upgrade the technological infrastructure, supply computers and provide Internet access to high schools statewide, the new grant program marks the first time state funding will be used to create high-tech high schools where academic and technical education will be integrated, said Nancy Sullivan, manager of the state Education Technology Office (

Public school districts or charter schools are eligible to apply for the 10 one-time grants of $2 million each. An award requires a local matching grant at least equal to or greater than the state grant. According to the legislation, the superintendent of public instruction will award the grants, with approval from the State Board of Education.

Chris Shultz, technology policy coordinator for the state education secretary, said that based on telephone calls from interested applicants, the process will be competitive. At least four of the 10 awards will go to areas that are underprivileged or rural, he said.

Existing schools can apply for the grants, Schultz said, adding that he expected those schools would "start from scratch" in redeveloping their curricula, rehiring or retraining faculty and administrators, and reworking other education practices.

There will be two phases of awarding grants, according to the legislation:

* Applications for the first five grants must be received by Feb. 1, 2002. Grants will be awarded by March 31, and schools should be operational by Sept. 30 of that year.

* Applications for the remaining grants would be submitted the following year, and schools must be operational by Sept. 30, 2003.


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