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Long Beach schools receive $250,000 as Broad Prize finalist

September 16, 2009 | 10:00 am

Broadprize

The Long Beach Unified School District failed to capture the top prize of $1 million in college scholarships when the Broad Prize was announced this morning at the U.S. Capitol. But the district received $250,000 in scholarships for the class of 2010 as one of five finalists.

The Broad Prize honors excellence in urban education in the nation's largest school districts.

The Aldine Independent School District near Houston captured the top award.

"Long Beach continues to be America's crowned jewel of urban school districts, outperforming other urban districts year after year with its steady gains," said Eli Broad, founder of the prize, in a written statement. "We look forward to sharing Long Beach's ongoing best practices with school districts across the nation so millions more students benefit from the smart efforts that have arisen there."

Long Beach was a finalist because it outperformed similar districts in California in 2008, saw greater participation of minority students taking Advanced Placement exams and the SATs, and narrowed the achievement gap between Latino and white students.

The district won the top award in 2003, and has been a finalist every year it has been eligible, earning nearly $1.4 million in scholarships from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

"Being a five-time finalist validates the tremendous hard work going on in all our schools," said district spokesman Chris Eftychiou, noting that the district continued making gains in student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap at a time when severe budget crises have resulted in cuts totaling $100 million in recent years.

Eftychiou spoke in front of scores of people who gathered at district headquarters, sipping coffee and eating chocolate cake while watching a live webcast of the award presentation. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the finalists before he named the winner. The crowd grew boisterous as he named Broward County Public Schools in southern Florida, Gwinnett County Public Schools outside Atlanta and the Socorro Independent School District in Texas, leaving Long Beach and Aldine as the remaining contenders for the top prize. When he announced Long Beach as the last finalist, the crowd applauded politely, and several audience members noted that a consolation prize of a quarter-million dollars was still enviable.

-- Seema Mehta

Photo: Trish Ross, left, counselor at Prisk Elementary school, Carina Cristiano Leoni, middle, project director at Connected Corridor, and Linda Mehlbrech, right, district curriculum leader for K-12 history, learn that the Long Beach Unified School District failed to win the $1-million 2009 Broad Prize. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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