On the heels of last week's notice of officially "targeted" Memphis schools and education-related visits to Memphis by Governor Phil Bredesen and to Nashville by President Bush comes this grant notification by Tennessee's two U.S. senators. From their release: "FRIST, ALEXANDER ANNOUNCE OVER $300,000 FOR MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOLS "WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that Memphis City Schools have been awarded $334,073 from the U.S. Department of Education to improve reading achievement of students through enhancements to school libraries citywide. “'Strengthening education must be one of our top priorities and this funding will allow Memphis to make the necessary improvements to school libraries to help maximize our students’ reading potential,' said Frist. 'We face many challenges in education today. Our schools must be proactive, innovative and forward thinking when it comes to the future of education. This program authorized through "No Child Left Behind" will help many educators get a leg up on reading achievement by ensuring that students have access to the most comprehensive library services available.' “'Children in Memphis will benefit greatly from improvements to their school libraries,' said Alexander. 'All Tennessee students should have the most up-to-date materials to help them learn and to become better readers.' "The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (LSL) program is designed to improve the reading achievement of students by providing them with access to up-to-date school library materials; technologically advanced school library media centers; and professionally certified school library media specialists. This discretionary grant program was authorized in 2002 as part of the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB). It provides competitive one-year grants to local educational agencies, primarily school districts, in which 20 percent of the students are from families with incomes below the poverty line. "There are 73 projects in 26 states are being funded in 2003. These projects intend to serve over 277,000 students in more than 600 schools. Over half the funds will be used to improve collections. "In addition to education funding through grant programs like the LSL, Memphis will receive more in overall education funding that it has in subsequent years. For example, last year Memphis schools received over $31 million in Title I funding to improve programs for disadvantaged students. With the increased funding levels in NCLB, Memphis is slated to receive close to $40 million in 2004."

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