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Montgomery schools will receive grant from Azerbaijani foundation

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Montgomery County Public Schools is set to receive a $65,000 education grant Thursday from a foundation based in the Republic of Azerbaijan, money that school officials say will buy technology for classrooms and an opportunity for seriously disabled students to more fully participate in their education.

The grant is being donated by the nonprofit Heydar Aliyev Foundation and was facilitated by S. Rob Sobhani, a board member with the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation and former independent candidate for U.S. Senate. Mr. Sobhani said the effort was inspired by a visit to the Longview School, a special-education day school in Germantown.

"When I visited Longview in October, it became very clear to me that people there are doing a Herculean task, and it's only fair and right that they be supported," Mr. Sobhani said.

Michele Mach, coordinator at Longview, said the donation was going to be "hugely helpful."

"Most of my students are functioning at a very low level — at the age of a year or less. And while that's not true straight across the board the whole curriculum is brought right down to their level," she said. "A pair of scissors might be 27 cents on the county bid list, but adapted scissors are $27."

The Longview School serves about 49 students from kindergarten age to as old as 21.

The educational foundation's executive director, Yolanda Pruitt, said $40,000 is marked for technology that can be used with smart boards in the public school classrooms.

Longview gets $25,000, which Ms. Mach said will hopefully go to voice output devices — recorders that can help students with severe communication problems. She said that the remaining funding could go toward adjustable chairs and stands in classrooms.

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