Heinz Endowments offers funds to address school's racial barriers

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More than six months after a cross was burned on the lawn of Mifflin PreK-8 in Lincoln Place, the Heinz Endowments are offering the Pittsburgh school district $36,503 to start a Saturday athletic clinic program to help break down racial barriers among communities assigned to the school.

The board discussed the proposal tonight and is expected to vote on Wednesday.

The school's feeder pattern includes Lincoln Place, Hazelwood, New Homestead Hill and Hays.

The description of the program noted the students do not have access to weekend clinics in their neighborhoods. It states the program would create "a natural opportunity to attract students and families across all communities in a common experience through structured athletic clinics that will include skill development and competition."

The goal is to create a "one community atmosphere."

The clinics are planned for March through June this year.

Assistant superintendent David May-Stein said the idea came out of community and district conversations. "It was not a top down approach," he said.

School board member Mark Brentley Sr. opposes the effort, saying the district should reopen Burgwin School in Hazelwood, which was closed in 2006.

Mr. Brentley, who is black, said what happened outside Mifflin was "so racist and so symbolic of violence" that he wouldn't want his own children to go there.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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