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USAID ends with ASHA III

Woodstock's task of spending the last ASHA grant was accomplished on time at the end of June, and practically to the penny.

The money was received as a grant from American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), a division of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This was our third ASHA grant. The first in 1985 built the initial computer lab. The second in 1989 built the Media Center. This grant was to equip the Media Center and upgrad other areas.

Kodai-Woodstock International, Inc., (KWI) in Atlanta, Georgia, acted as agent and grant recipient for both Kodai and Woodstock.

A fourth ASHA application by KWI was turned down this July as a result of a ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that federal monies may not be used for hospitals and schools with religious affiliations. The religious nature of Kodai and Woodstock was examined in three separate reviews: 1) an internal review by ASHA, 2) a review by an external independent auditor, and 3) a review by the General Counsel for the Bureau for Humanitarian Response. The schools did not pass any of these reviews and KWI feels that an appeal or new application would be fruitless. Woodstock hoped to use the fourth grant to build and outfit a new science wing in the high school. The need to improve our outdated science facilities remains acute and the school is searching for other funding sources.

The goal of the ASHA grants is to assist, particularly in education, US citizens living abroad, and to train and prepare people participating in the development of the host nation.

The benefits of ASHA III are evident throughout Woodstock. The audio-visual department has a full video suite with cameras, editing and projection equipment. Journalism has its own desktop publishing facility, including a plotter, scanner and laser printer. In addition to computer hardware in specialized labs, residences, teachers' workrooms and science labs, we have extensive academic software and instructional video tapes.

In the arts, a new cassette and CD player and 100 new Western and Indian CDs have jazzed up the music program. Nine electronic pianos have replaced some of our ancient monsoon-weary instruments. A kiln and potter's wheel are in regular use in the ceramics room. A huge order of woodworking equipment will arrive shortly and drafting tools, including computer software programs, are in place.

The science program is significantly improved with several sets of microscopes and equipment for instructional and student use in labs.

Even an avid shopper would have found ASHA procedures a daunting hurdle. Following the broad categories of the grant, faculty could make proposals which were reviewed, assigned priority and, in the case of larger items, put out for bid. Supply and delivery problems were legion both from the US and within India. Much of the coordinating, purchasing and accounting was handled by the Development Office.

Despite regrets over our ineligibility for future grants, ASHA has changed the face of Woodstock, giving us resources practically unimaginable in most schools in India. The challenge now is to maintain our assets and to build on them, making a Woodstock education ever greater and better.

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