Underwood may keep doors open

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March 11th, 2011

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Underwood Hills Focus School may keep its doors open next fall

Omaha, NE – The Underwood Focus School may be able to open its doors to their students come next fall, after all, thanks to a monetary gift from an unnamed Omaha philanthropist.

The Focus School was scheduled to close this June, after one of the three collaborating school districts, Elkhorn initially pulled funding. But, an $800,000 donation from an unnamed philanthropist may keep school in session.

Bret Anderson is the principal of Underwood, which has been open for three years and has been touted as model for collaboration. He said it’s commendable that anybody would step forward to support this school, which has improved reading scores among high poverty students, and African Americans.

“The donors offered to cover basically a lot of the cost,” he said, “at least for probably for four or five years, until the economy gets better and the Nebraska education budget gets better.” He said he didn’t know the donor’s identity, but said, “It’s somebody that has faith in the program that we’re doing and the model we’re trying to promote too. We’ve had a lot of success in what we’re doing with a lot of different kids and that’s been the most positive thing.”

Anderson said the school, with 160 students enrolled, will have to move, as it becomes a part of the Omaha Public School district. Willie Barney is a parent with a third grade student who attends the school. He said he’s excited to see OPS and the philanthropic partner work together to keep the school open.

“One thing that’s most exciting is, when you talk to parents from all walks of life, they’ll say some student that came to the school they were maybe struggling at another school and now they’re doing really well.” He also added you’ll also have students “that maybe needed a challenge and they’re performing very well.”

On Monday, March 14, the OPS board committee will meet to work out specifics for keeping the school open.

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