by Pia K. Hansen and Jessica Milstead

Money for local schools -- SPOKANE -- Ten Washington state schools have been recognized as high-achievement models and received more than $1.8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Among them are three Spokane schools: Orchard Center Elementary, Continuous Curriculum and Shiloh Hills Elementary. On Oct. 3, the individual Spokane schools were informed that they had each received several hundred thousand dollars to invest in training and technology.

"We are going to take our children and parents into the 21st century of communication and learning," says Scott Reed, principal of Continuous Curriculum School. He plans to use the money for an evening computer course, where children can teach parents computer fundamentals and technology. "We have a huge parent involvement," he explains.

To be considered for a grant, aside from showing strong parent involvement, a school must have fewer than 600 students and match at least 20 percent of the grant amount.

At all three schools, most of the money will be used for staff training and for upgrading classroom technology.

"It should make a huge difference with the kids in how they think and become part of the broader world," says Joan Davis of Shiloh Hills Elementary. "It is a wonderful chance for in-depth training and support. It gives us money to infuse technology into the building."

Part of the money granted to Shiloh Hills Elementary will be used to keep the computer lab open in the evening to students and parents. Davis says this is especially important for students who lack computer access at home.

In a written statement announcing the $1.8 million donation, Kyle Miller, program officer of school grants for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that "There are schools doing great things in all parts of this state."

Candidate forum -- SPOKANE -- On Friday, the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting an early morning city council candidate forum at the WestCoast Ridpath Hotel.

The forum is part of the Chamber's Good Morning Spokane series, and at least 200 people are expected to attend the breakfast meeting featuring all the candidates for the November 6 election.

In District 1 (northeast Spokane), local business owner Robert Apple is running against neighborhood activist Al French. In District 2 (south Spokane), business attorney and longtime Spokane volunteer and Park Board Member Dennis Hession is running against current city council member Dean Lynch, who's worked for 25 years in the social services field. In District 3 (northwest Spokane), current city council member Cherie Rodgers, who helped found what are now the neighborhood councils, is running against former council member Jeff Colliton.

All six candidates have confirmed their appearance at the forum, where they'll deliver presentations and take questions.

The forum is on Friday, Oct. 12, from 7:30-9 am at the Ridpath. Cost: $20, members; $35, non-members. Includes breakfast. Must preregister. Call: 363-2686.

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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