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Article of Interest - Reform

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Bridges4Kids LogoPrivate Donations Help Keep Model School Program Alive
by Kevin Rothstein, The Boston Herald, July 26, 2003
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A lauded program credited with turning a tough Roxbury middle school into a high-achieving institution has been saved from the budget ax by $600,000 in donations - coughed up mostly by suburbanites.

Parents of students at the James P. Timilty Middle School were relieved that Project Promise, which offers longer classes and school days, would return at least for a year.

"My younger daughter is just excelling with the program,'' said West Roxbury mother Eda Ludvigson. "The periods are built up to be 90 minutes long so they're kept on task.''

The Project Promise program not only paid to extend classes more than the traditional 45 minutes but also provided teachers with more planning time, extending the school day to 4 p.m.

It was saved by the unorthodox fund-raising effort of Robert Romanow, an auto parts magnate who runs Frugal McDoogal's, a bargain store near Dudley Square in Roxbury. Romanow, 62, tapped into his own philanthropic network to find the donors, nearly all of whom live outside Boston.

"They gave because they believe this school is a model,'' he said.

The $600,000 was raised just a few days before the June 15 deadline, giving the program one more year of funding. The city agreed to match the money in 2005 and 2006. Another $600,000 is needed to support the next three years, and Romanow wants to start an endowment fund.

Students at the school, who are 90 percent black and Hispanic, recorded some of the highest MCAS scores in the Boston Public Schools.

When Ludvisgon's older daughter started sixth grade at the Timilty, she was failing math. She credits the school for a turnaround. "Before that it was like passing her along, giving good grades but she never knew anything. She started getting D's in math at the Timilty,'' Ludvigson said.

Now she attends a Catholic high school, earning a B-plus in math.
    

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