National Education Association Fine Arts Grants

The National Education Association (NEA) Fine Arts grants are awarded to teachers, through local NEA affiliates, to enable them to create and implement fine arts programs that promote learning among students at risk of school failure. Programs must address the arts (e.g., painting, sculpture, photography, music, theater, dance, design, media, or folk arts).


Harding University Sees Jump in Applications With Introduction of GoalQuest eCRUIT

New York, New York–September 28, 2006 Today GoalQuest Inc. and Harding University announced that applications for undergraduate admission at the institution increased sharply following the introduction of GoalQuest eCRUIT™, a Web-based recruiting and real-time prospect intelligence tool.

Enrollment management administrators at Harding saw the greatest increase when comparing the first 11 weeks of their GoalQuest usage with the same period in 2005, before Harding had deployed the eCRUIT program.

“It was obvious to our admissions office right from the start that GoalQuest was having a positive impact on the number of applications we received,” said Glenn Dillard, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Harding. “During the first 11 weeks of the eCRUIT campaign, more students applied for admission than in those very same weeks one year earlier.”

As part of its eCRUIT program, Harding has implemented and continues to add a range of standard, customizable services and features, including:

*Expert-written editorial topics, such as creating a list of college consideration criteria, seeking out an education that incorporates faith, navigating the application process and asking relevant questions when visiting college campuses. In addition to helpful hints and tips to guide them through the consideration and application process, the program also immerses students in key aspects of Harding University — from academics to campus life to getting involved in extracurricular activities.

*Award-winning Web design, customized according to Harding’s distinct communication standards and desired look and feel.

*UBlog™–Using GoalQuest’s proprietary blogging tool, Harding assigned six of its current undergraduates to act as “virtual ambassadors” and connect with prospective students. The bloggers update their live journals with information on everything from preparing for exams to choosing among available student activities to getting ready for summer break. UBlog lets each prospect add comments or pose questions to any blog entry.

*Student Service Center–Harding utilizes GoalQuest’s Student Service Center through a feature known to prospects as “Ask Harding.” Ask Harding encourages students to ask questions and provide feedback on a variety of topics (e.g., admissions in general, financial aid and residence life). Questions are then time-stamped and sent to pre-determined campus administrators. Students themselves are promised a speedy response from the school personnel best equipped to help them, while administrators can analyze question and answer flow to determine the types of questions students send most frequently as well as the average response times of the various university departments.

*Real-time user trajectory data, which enables colleges and universities to identify prospective students whose activity may recommend itself to a more personalized follow-up by the admissions staff. The GoalQuest Reporting Center analyzes a range of key metrics to help institutions better allocate their enrollment management resources, including students’ responses to embedded survey questions–developed by GoalQuest editorial and research teams.

According to Peter Kraft, GoalQuest chief executive officer and co-founder, “We are delighted at the substantive results that eCRUIT has yielded in its debut year at Harding. We expect even greater results from eCRUIT’s combination of outstanding content and powerful real-time intelligence indicators as we begin planning for year two.”

Harding University

Harding University is a private Christian institution of higher education committed to the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences. The University serves a diverse, co-educational student body from across the United States and around the world, although the primary constituency for students and financial support is the fellowship of the churches of Christ. Harding believes that the freedom to pursue truth and high academic achievement is compatible with the Christian principles to which the University is committed. The faculty is dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, and to their role as models of Christian living. The University community seeks to provide an environment that both supports students and challenges them to realize their full potential. Harding’s mission is to provide a quality education that will lead to an understanding and philosophy of life consistent with Christian ideals.

About GoalQuest

GoalQuest, Inc. is a New York City-based software company specializing in innovative solutions for higher education. The Company’s proprietary software assists colleges and universities in maximizing recruiting, enrollment yield, retention, parent communication and advancement efforts. Its suite of products, including eCRUIT™, FYRe™, PICS™, AlumNet™ as well as its Universe™ tools such as UPeers™ and UPortfolio™, are based on a revolutionary technology that immerses participants in highly interactive content. The tools provide clients with a full-featured reporting center and automated activity alerts that monitor the real-time interest trajectory of users. GoalQuest is a NASPA strategic partner. For additional information about GoalQuest, please visit the Company’s Web site at or e-mail



DVD Offering Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids Now Available at Healthy Kids’ Catalog®

SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 26, 2006–Healthy Kids’ Catalog®–a one-of-a-kind online catalog company exclusively offering “Solutions That Foster Healthy Children™”, today announced that it has integrated a DVD entitled “The Visual Guide: How To Make A Healthy Lunch For Kids!” into its inventory of non-consumable lifestyle products that serve to help kids get, and stay, weight-wise through good nutrition and physical activity. This in time for National School Lunch Week October 9-13, 2006, when parents and educators alike will have a renewed focus on the importance of healthy lunch choices during the school day–both those from the school cafeteria and brought from home.

“This DVD is both a timely and compelling addition to our catalog, as healthy school lunches are among caregivers’ foremost concerns and practical, common sense expert advice on the topic is always in demand,” notes Merilee Kern, founder and CEO of Healthy Kids’ Catalog. “It is one of the best tools in this area I’ve seen, as it provides hundreds of healthy school lunch ideas that are as simple as they are tasty to a kid’s pallet.”

Words may inform, but demonstration teaches; that’s the core philosophy behind “The Visual Guide: How To Make A Healthy Lunch For Kids!” DVD. At just over 90-minutes long, it’s packed with valuable information every parent needs to break out of his or her rut in preparing school lunches. Back to school lunch topics include: adding interest to fruits & vegetables; making the most of leftovers; kid-friendly sandwiches, wraps & pitas; soup, bean & rice dishes; and helpful tips for busy parents. The DVD also includes a colorful recipe booklet filled with school lunch box ideas.

Co-producer Laura Pasetta leveraged her extensive background in family health, nutrition, herbal medicine and cooking to produce “The Visual Guide: How To Make A Healthy Lunch For Kids!” DVD, which, she says, was “a labor of love.” The DVD’s easy-to-navigate menu breaks down school lunch preparation into seven steps, or “layers,” including: the importance of food presentation, healthy main course dishes, incorporating vegetables, adding fruit, healthy snack ideas, hydrating beverages and lunchtime fun. Using these building blocks, the DVD teaches parents how to prepare school lunches as healthy as they are exciting. It also includes commentary from a Pediatrician and Registered Dietitian on the effects of an unhealthy diet.

Pasetta notes, “We are thrilled that Healthy Kids’ Catalog has made our DVD available to health-conscious consumers nationwide, as this retailer whose sole mission is to help eradicate childhood obesity could not be a more perfect fit. I, for one, applaud their efforts to make such resources readily available to caregivers from one easy and convenient online storefront.”

Healthy Kids’ Catalog provides parents, teachers, physicians and other youth care givers with one-stop access to a wide assortment of resources to help kids eat nutritiously, get active and otherwise lead a healthy lifestyle. The kid-friendly healthy living products offered by Healthy Kids’ Catalog’s run the gamut; categories include Books/Literature for Children, Books/Literature for Care givers, Instructional/Educational Materials, Videos, Exercise Tools/Equipment, Sports Gear, Health-Promoting Toys/Games, Nutrition, Fitness, Kitchen Appliances and Healthy Living. The company also publishes WEIGHT-WISE KIDS®, a free monthly electronic newsletter that “serves up” youth-specific healthy living advice, information, news, and resources.

Those interested in purchasing “The Visual Guide: How To Make A Healthy Lunch For Kids!” DVD and other healthy youth lifestyle products can do so at for just $19.99 U.S.

About Healthy Kids’ Catalog

Established in 2006 and with corporate headquarters in San Diego, California, first-of-its-kind Healthy Kids’ Catalog® ( is dedicated to improving the state of kids’ health by offering a comprehensive line of top-quality “Solutions That Foster Healthy Children™” from one convenient online destination. Through Healthy Kids’ Catalog, parents, teachers, physicians and other youth caregivers benefit from single-point access to a broad selection of kid-friendly healthy living resources. The company was co-founded by child health advocate Merilee A. Kern, CEO who is also author of the fictional children’s book entitled “It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Overweight – A Story of Enlightenment, Empowerment and Accomplishment for Overweight and Obese Kids,” which was named among iParenting Media’s “Excellent Products of 2006.”

About The Visual Guide

The Visual Guide is a California-based producer of high-quality, educational DVDs designed to empower and enlighten the new generation across a variety of topics. Each video is produced with The Visual Guide’s core philosophy in mind: while words may inform, demonstration teaches. Their products are always easy to follow, hands-on and packed with valuable information you can use over and over again. The Visual Guide is owned and operated by Gregory and Laura Pasetta, a husband-and-wife team combining Greg’s 20-years experience in video production and technology with Laura’s extensive background in health, nutrition, herbal medicine and cooking. For more information, please visit:



Horizon DataSys Corporation Announces RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 Disaster Recovery Software

June 16, 2006 (Blaine, Wash.)–Horizon DataSys Corporation announces the release of RollBack Rx Pro 7.2, the only disaster recovery solution that allows users to recover their system files, program files, priceless digital pictures, mp3 files and other data up-to-the-minute of a system crash. RollBack Rx Pro 7.2™ allows computer users, regardless of their skill level, to easily and quickly repair their computer problems in seconds. Empowering both users and enterprise IT support personnel with the ultimate cost and time saving tool to maintain their computers, RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 is affordable insurance for any computer user.

RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 works by taking snapshots of the hard drive and storing them as recoverable system configurations. Then, when the user’s system crashes, they have the opportunity to go back to any of the system snapshots and restore their PC back to its previous state. The snapshots are taken seamlessly and automatically with no system restart at any predetermined time every minute, every day or even every second. “RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 is a critical line of defense that closes the window of exposure to today’s fast moving security threats, while minimizing downtime,” said Lyle Patel, President of Horizon DataSys. “Recovering from an attack immediately after a system crash is essential for large corporations.”

The software’s unique technology makes it the most complete disaster recovery software on the market today. Based on a patent pending technology, RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 only takes 0.07% of total hard disk space and is compatible with Windows 98, Me, 2000 and XP. RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 retrieves lost files from the past and continues to take snapshots of incoming emails and present programs–allowing the user to retrieve files up to the current minute.

“With RollBack Rx Pro 7.2, systems and employees’ computers can be back up and running within minutes–with no data loss,” said Patel.

No matter the title or degree of the user; English teacher, small business owner, network administrator for thousands of PCs or a novice end-user, RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 saves time, money and unnecessary trouble for any computer user. For more information and to purchase RollBack Rx Pro 7.2 (MSRP, $59.95), visit




Colorado libraries have developed a new strategic plan to cover the years 2006–2010 called Moving Libraries Forward: A Roadmap for Colorado Library Cooperation. This document is meant to serve as a guide for how libraries, working together, can improve library services to the residents of Colorado, while acknowledging the continuing, difficult tasks of doing more with less. This plan will assist libraries of all types in strengthening their relationships with their communities and with each other.

The plan was created by a task force appointed by the Colorado Library Advisory Board, representing all segments of the library community. The task force surveyed library leaders, public library trustees, school library district administrators, and academic officers to identify the key issues and concerns that need to be addressed.

The final plan lists six major goals for activities:







Values common to all types of libraries across the state were the foundation of the goals. These values include:

*Literacy and education for all

*Equity of services, resources, and access

*Freedom of Information

*Best Practices

*Cooperation and Collaboration

The complete plan may be viewed at For a printed version, contact B. F. McCune,, 303.866.6891.



Pearson Education announces the formation of the Hispanic Leadership Council on Education at a special media event

What: Pearson Education announces the formation of the Hispanic Leadership Council on Education at a special media event. When: Tues., Oct. 10, 9-10:30 a.m.

Where: National Press Club First Amendment Lounge (north side of building) 529 14th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20045

Who: Special remarks will be made by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. In addition, members of the new Hispanic Leadership Council on Education, including superintendents of schools from the nation’s leading school districts, and Pearson Education leaders will be in attendance.

Breakfast will be served.

*Hispanic Leadership Council on Education Members: Robert Alfaro, eastern regional superintendent, Clark County Schools, Nev.; Anthony Amato, superintendent, Kansas City School District, Mo.; Ray Chavez, principal, Valencia Middle School, Tucson Unified School District, Ariz.; Sonía Diaz, superintendent, Las Cruces Public Schools, N.M.; Roberto Durón, superintendent, San Antonio Independent School District, Texas; Debra Esparza, area two instruction officer, Chicago Public Schools, Ill.; Carmella S. Franco, superintendent, Whittier City School District, Calif.; Arturo Guajardo, superintendent, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Texas; Michael Hinojosa, superintendent, Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Wilfredo Laboy, superintendent, Lawrence Public Schools, Mass.; Ricardo Medina, academic achievement officer, Alum Rock School District, Calif.; Anthony Monreal, superintendent, Selma Unified School District, Calif.; Hector Montenegro, superintendent, Yselta Independent School District, Texas; Tomasita Ortiz, director, Multilingual Education Services, Orange County, Fla.; Manuel Rivera, superintendent, Rochester City School District, N.Y.; Darline Robles, superintendent, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Calif.; Abelardo Saavedra, superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Texas; and Patricia Watkins, superintendent, Prince Edward County Public Schools, Va.



IU is first university in North America to offer classes in Kurmanji Kurdish

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University has become the first university in North America to offer a class in the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, a language spoken throughout several Middle Eastern lands, including Iraq and Iran.

Kurmanji Kurdish is spoken by nearly 15 million of the estimated 27 to 30 million Kurdish speakers worldwide. It also is spoken in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey and is the exclusive Kurdish dialect in the former Soviet Republics of the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia. It also is common in Western Europe, where close to 1 million Kurds have been reestablished.

“Until recently, few Kurdish areas were accessible to scholars, with Iraq and Iran closed and an insurgency in the Kurdish areas of Turkey,” said John Walbridge, chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program at IU.

“However, now the Kurdish area in northern Iraq is prospering, and the Kurdish areas of Turkey are largely at peace and more open. This gives our students and faculty a unique opportunity to acquire the language skills to work with an important and understudied group,” he said.

By the end of this course, the 10 students enrolled this semester will be able to converse with native speakers, read and discuss simple texts and write basic essays in the Kurmanji dialect. The IU course is being taught by Kutbettin Killiç, a native speaker of Kurdish and Turkish, who is a doctoral candidate from Turkey.

IU has a distinguished legacy for the number of languages it teaches, particularly for the languages of the Middle East and Central Asia, Walbridge said. More than 75 languages are taught at IU Bloomington, and include many important in the region, such as Arabic, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Pashtu, Persian (also known as Farsi), Turkish, Turkmen and Uzbek.

The Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region, which is one of only 14 National Language Resource Centers, develops teaching materials for many of these languages.

“Kurdish is spoken in half a dozen Middle Eastern countries, but it is practically never taught, even in the Middle East. We’re proud of the number of rarely taught languages we have here. Kurdish is only the newest pearl on the string,” Walbridge said.

The offering of Kurdish at IU also is significant because of the legacy left by the late Wadie Jwaideh, a native of Iraq, who founded the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program at IU in the 1960s.

In addition to leading the program to international prominence, Jwaideh was one of the most accomplished scholars anywhere on the Kurds. He died in March of 2001, but his widow, Alice, continued to work with Syracuse University Press on publication of his thesis into a book, The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development, which was published in the last month.

“In Professor Jwaideh’s time, there were few scholars in the United States working seriously on modern Iraqi history and almost none who studied the history of the Kurds. Now we can understand his foresight. It’s a reminder of how far in advance we must plan and invest if we expect our country to have adequate expertise on other parts of the world,” Walbridge said.

The Wadie Jwaideh Memorial Lecture will be given on Nov. 3 by Robert Olson, professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at the University of Kentucky and one of Jwaideh’s former doctoral students, who will be speaking about the Kurds.

Martha Held, a graduate student in Arabic linguistics, helped to organize the Kurdish class and has studied how minority language policies affect ethnic identity. She points to history and noted that the Kurds have been prevented as a people from participating in the world scene because national boundaries have not coincided with where Kurdish is spoken. But she thinks that situation may be changing due to current events in Iraq and elsewhere.

“The economic situation around the world is changing at a really fast pace and that’s going to change the nature of nationhood as well as the relationships between ethnic groups in different countries,” Held said. “It’s really important that this language be taught, because at this time it’s not able to be used in education for the purposes of participating in the modern world. It’s really important that this language be recognized and be saved. These people need a voice in the economy. Otherwise, there will be terrible consequences.” Kurmanji Kurdish has been identified by the U.S. government as a critical language, thus creating employment opportunities for IU students.

“Many of our students eventually work for the government and public sector,” Walbridge said. “Whatever the outcome of the war in Iraq, it is clear that the Kurds will be an important factor in the Middle East in coming decades.”




BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Sept. 28, 2006 – Pearson Assessments today introduced The Bridge of Vocabulary, the only explicit vocabulary intervention program tied to evidence-based research and curriculum standards and developed for both general and special educators. The product will be available November 13.

The sophisticated new tool enables educators to meet guidelines set by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which require that teachers and specialists use evidence-based teaching practices to ensure their students receive high-quality instruction and intervention.

The Bridge of Vocabulary is brief, focused and flexible and directly links specific vocabulary intervention with a research-based strategy and presents a systematic, intensive approach to help foster vocabulary and language growth. Written for multiple users, it facilitates collaboration among speech-language pathologists (SLPs), classroom teachers, reading teachers and other education professionals.

“Vocabulary serves as a bridge for both general and special education professionals, as it brings us together to serve students in more and more collaborative ways,” said the book’s author, Judy K. Montgomery, Ph.D., professor of special education and literacy at Chapman University, Orange, Calif. “No longer do we need to rely on the general education teaching book’ or the SLP or Reading Teacher materials’ since we can all work from the same book.”

The Bridge of Vocabulary targets five age levels, from preschoolers through adult learners. Early learners use pictures to help them grasp early vocabulary concepts, elementary students use both oral and written activities, and older learners use reasoning skills to master abstract vocabulary concepts.

The book provides more than 100 professional-led activities, all of which have been field-tested by classroom teachers and speech-language pathologists. An accompanying CD-ROM offers additional guided practice activities, independent practice, word cards and picture cards.

“The Bridge of Vocabulary is a one-of-a-kind tool for vocabulary intervention that offers a systematic, intensive approach to fostering vocabulary and language growth,” said Carol Watson, executive vice president and publisher, Pearson Assessments. “It’s ideal for both general and special education professionals and can be used with a variety of student populations.”

Montgomery has more than two decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist, school principal and director of special-education in California public schools. She is currently chair of the Scientific and Professional Education Board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and in 1995 served as ASHA’s president.

Montgomery’s recent work and publications focus on the practical application of scientifically based reading and language research for all children. She has written 19 articles and book chapters on effective service delivery for general and special education, as well as seven books.

For more information on The Bridge of Vocabulary, visit the Pearson Assessments website at or call (800) 627-7271. Note to Editors

A pre-publication pricing offer for The Bridge of Vocabulary is $39.99 through Nov. 1 for the book and CD, reflecting a 20 percent discount from the published list price. After Nov. 1, the price returns to $49.99.

About Pearson Assessments

Pearson Assessments provides assessment instruments and data capture tools and technologies for use in education, health care and business settings. Backed by nearly a half century of knowledge and expertise, Pearson Assessments – integrating Pearson NCS and the assessment division of AGS Publishing with the original Pearson Assessments business – offers products and services to deliver the accurate, reliable and usable information that professionals seek. Pearson Assessments is a business of Pearson Education, the world’s largest integrated education company, which in turn is part of Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the international media company. Pearson’s other primary operations include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.



Growing Texas School District Takes Broadcast Pix Switchers to the Classroom and the Field for Instructional and In-Stadium Usage

BURLINGTON, Massachusetts (September 27, 2006)–Based on the successful implementation of a Broadcast Pix 2000 digital switcher in a classroom environment at its Ben Barber Career Tech Academy, the Mansfield Independent School District (Mansfield ISD), located in Mansfield, Texas, selected a second Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher. The second switcher will be used for closed circuit broadcasts within the school district’s new multi-purpose stadium and natatorium currently being constructed. Broadcast Pix is a premier manufacturer of live switchers for the broadcast market with such high-profile customer as CBS, ABC, Fox and PBS, as well as large corporations including Microsoft, HP, Cisco and Morgan-Stanley.

With over 27,000 students enrolled at its 33 schools from elementary through high school, Mansfield ISD is one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas. Because of the pace at which it’s growing, the school district is constructing a new sports stadium complex to accommodate the needs of its student body. The new stadium will include a Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher housed within the press box for signal switching to a Jumbotron system. Three JVC GY-DV550U camcorders will be on the field–with two stationed in the press box and one on the field. One Canon NU700N remote control camera will be placed on top of the Jumbotron and operated remotely from the press box.

The ease with which graphics and titles are created and integrated within the live video was the main advantage of the Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher, according to Jerry Cantu, Media Technology Instructor, Mansfield ISD’s Ben Barber Career Tech Academy: “We can have one person creating graphics simultaneously while another person is doing the switching. Previously, we’d have to go to a separate software program, transfer the graphics to removable media, import the files into the system, and then bring up the graphics. It’s much easier to operate than having a separate CG system. And the number of inputs we’re able to assign sources to more than meets our expectations.”

Because the Ben Barber Career Tech Academy already has a Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher in the control room for its “Media Technology” program, selecting the 2000 for the new stadium was an easy choice. “Our students will be the crew for the Jumbotron broadcasts,” explained Cantu. “And they are already familiar with the switcher through our Media Technology classes at Ben Barber, so they won’t need any training at all.” Three JVC DV-550U cameras are installed in a “newsroom” set up in Ben Barber Career Tech Academy’s Media Technology program that also houses the Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher. The Ben Barber Career Tech Academy offers career tech training in the culinary arts, electronics, RTV communications, business marketing, geographical information systems, and automotive industries. The Broadcast Pix 2000 switcher includes a rack-mounted workstation with a hard-panel control panel and a Break-out-Box. It includes a digital switcher with four keyers, Inscriber Character Generator, clip stores, still stores, logo generator, three DVEs, and it provides SDI and analog I/O, including composite, Y/C and component. Options include control of cameras, video servers and routers. About Broadcast Pix

Broadcast Pix provides the industry’s only live video production switchers with a built-in character generator, clip store and full-motion monitoring. They are more powerful, easier to use, and much more cost effective than a traditional control room of individual components, yet retain a fast action human interface and robustness. Broadcast Pix switchers enable a single operator to create engaging live television that used to require a team, yet gracefully adds operators when desired. They are also the only switchers that can be controlled remotely over the Internet. Broadcast Pix is based in Burlington, Massachusetts, with offices in California and Europe. Customers include leading broadcast, cable, corporate, education, entertainment, mobile, faith and government studios. For more information on Broadcast Pix, go to



Schools to get hazard warning radios

When the squeal from an automated warning radio brought news a severe storm was approaching, school principal William Tomic acted quickly. He alerted teachers to bring children indoors and to a secure interior hallway for shelter.

Minutes later, 70 mph winds ripped the roof off the kindergarten wing of the Charles F. Johnson Elementary School in Endicott, N.Y.

No one was hurt, thanks to the warning and the timely response to it.

“It really did work very well; we were so pleased with it,” Tomic said. “The parents were as well.”

Many were concerned when they arrived to find the roof lying on the side of the building. But their children were safe and had not even seen the damage occur, Tomic said.

Hoping for more such success stories, the federal government on Sept. 25 announced that it will supply hazard warning radios to all 97,000 public schools in the United States, free of charge.

The National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), operates more than 950 short-range radio stations. It has encouraged schools, businesses, and homeowners to buy warning radios that are activated with a broadcast signal that automatically turns a radio on and announces a potential hazard.

The Homeland Security Department now has decided to provide $5 million to make sure these radios are in every public school, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said.

Originally conceived as a means to deliver weather warnings, the system now covers all hazards–for example, terrorism, abducted children, or even derailed trains carrying toxic materials.

Of course, it takes more than just having the warning radio. School authorities have to know what to do when an alarm sounds.

Tomic said his school has two weather drills a year. Each classroom has a kit that the teachers bring along to the shelter area to keep the children occupied with games, stories, songs, and other activities.

In Fairfax County, Va., three tornado and severe weather drills are held annually, said Fred Ellis, the director of safety and security for public schools.

“Certainly we’ve had our share of severe weather,” Ellis said, noting the radios have been in county schools for several years.

Typically, they are in the school office, where there is always someone to monitor them. “They make quite a racket,” Ellis said–but they are useful tools to help administrators keep track of what is happening outside their buildings, he added.

“We’re not immune from severe weather, and we take that very seriously,” Ellis said.

In announcing its plan to distribute the radios, NOAA pointed out that more than 10,000 major thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, and 1,000 tornadoes hit the U. S. annually, and that hurricanes threaten the Gulf and East coasts.

Lautenbacher said weather experts from local Weather Service offices will be available to assist school officials in determining how best to use the radios.

The radios operate 24 hours a day, receiving forecasts and warnings from the Weather Service’s 123 forecast offices as well as other information.

Six states–Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, and Mississippi–already mandate use of the radios in schools. NOAA said schools in those states also will be included in the new program to make sure they have the most recent models. Also included will be tribal schools and public schools in U.S. territories.

Typically, the radios are smaller than a clock radio, have a battery backup in case of power loss, and are sold at electronic and other stores for $20 to $80. Most can be programmed to respond only to warnings for a specific area–a county or city, for example.

Lautenbacher said the distribution is expected to begin in October and should take a few months.

He said the NOAA radio system covers about 97 percent of the country, with the few gaps in some sparsely populated mountain areas.


NOAA Weather Radio

Find nearest NWS office