10:30 AM PST, November 26, 2012
Two local elementary schools are in the lead pack of candidates for a $50,000 grant that administrators say could go a long way in improving student life and classroom learning.
For a chance at winning the grant sponsored by Clorox, the schools must garner enough public votes by way of text messages or online by Dec. 19.
In Burbank, parents and educators at Bret Harte Elementary are competing against 400 schools to invest in their arts program.
When Bret Harte students produce shows to a standing-room only audience in the 71-year-old auditorium, the sweltering heat can put a cramp on the event, according to Principal Sheari Taylor.
“No matter what time of year it is, it can get very uncomfortable,” Taylor said.
Should Bret Harte win the grant, the school will install an air conditioner, along with new sound and lighting systems.
Taylor has been reminding parents daily since mid-November in emails, and in her Sunday night phone calls to local households, to vote.
Elisa Hemingway, who has a third-grade son at the school, discovered the grant and is also helping to get out the vote.
“Knowing the recognition that Burbank has for the arts, wouldn’t be great if we could be exposed to a soundboard and lighting?” she said. “How many grips do we have in this community? But we don’t have this equipment.”
As of Friday, Bret Harte was ranked in 10th place.
In Glendale, parents Diana Cardenas and DeeDee Kates Matthys have been rallying for Thomas Edison Elementary, which is competing among 1,595 schools across the country. Edison plans to use the grant for technology.
Kates Matthys said that a school where 70% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, access to technology at home remains out of reach for many.
The grant would help purchase laptops for every fifth-grader and iPods for students to respond remotely to classroom Smart Boards.
“One of the things that make kids successful in the 21st century is 21st century technology,” Kates Matthys said. “If they don’t have it at home, they’re not playing on a level playing field.”
Principal Carmen Labrecque said the influx of cash would be particularly useful as the advanced technology magnet school winds down its third consecutive year of magnet grant money this year.
As of Friday, Edison was ranked 106.
To vote for Bret Harte, text 2311pbf to 95248
To vote for Edison, text 1778pbf to 95248
-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan