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Principal, 2 teachers, 8 students to meet Gore

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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2000

TAMPA -- Van Buren Middle School was abuzz Thursday. A visitor, students were told, was coming to see their school, to learn about their after-school program and the ways federal dollars are spent at the school.

His name was a familiar one: Al Gore.

Only a handful of students at the school on 22nd Street, just south of Busch Boulevard, will meet the vice president. He will arrive after school hours to hold a roundtable talk with eight students, two teachers and the principal.

Van Buren, a school of 742 students, was chosen because it receives extra federal dollars as part of a program that helps schools with large numbers of low-income students. Gore, school officials said, was interested in seeing how those dollars are put to work.

Nancy Trathowen, the school principal, said the money, which the school has been receiving for three years, had been used to buy computers and to network the school for the Internet. It has also been used to extend the school day and provide tutoring services.

Gore's Tampa stop follows a campaign swing through the state. He attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Thursday night at the Palm Beach home of lawyer Robert Montgomery, which was expected to raise $650,000.

The vice president will host a forum this morning on Medicare and prescription drugs at Delray Beach, attend a DNC fundraiser at the Fort Lauderdale home of U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch and fly to Tampa late this afternoon.

Opinion polls indicate education is the top issue with voters in the presidential campaign, and both Gore and George W. Bush have been focusing on education since they wrapped up the nominations of their parties last month.

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