Eight school districts will receive funding under Gov. Mike Leavitt's Highly Impacted Schools program - a program that will infuse $4 million in 40 Utah schools serving large concentrations of at-risk students.

      The governor named the schools during a press conference Monday at Salt Lake's Whittier Elementary School, one of the recipients.Nearly 20,000 students statewide will benefit from the program this year. Of the 176 schools that applied, only 40 were selected.

      "These children face many obstacles in their lives that make it difficult for them to receive education they need to live fulfilling and productive lives," Leavitt said.

      "Through the Highly Impacted Schools program we will be able to reach out to these children on a more individual basis and meet their unique educational needs while helping them develop self-esteem and confidence."

      The Utah State Board of Education will monitor the program and require each school to file a report on the use and effectiveness of the appropriation.

      "These 40 schools face some of the most challenging demographics in the state. They represent large and small, urban and rural situations, which require the concentrated effort of families, schools and communities to ensure students' success," said state superintendent Scott Bean.

      This is the first year of the program. "If we can demonstrate the money will make a difference, they (the Legislature) will step up and fund it and I'll recommend it," the governor said. "We're all interested in finding ways to deal with these problems."

      Each school receives a $30,000 base allocation and an additional impact allocation based on the total number of students in the school. Allocations range from $33,000 to $146,000. Funding will be available July 1.

      Of the eight school districts to receive funding, Salt Lake schools has been awarded more than $1.5 million. Ten Salt Lake District schools will receive more than $100,000 each.

      The Salt Lake schools that will receive funds include Lincoln, Jackson, Edison, Franklin, Mountain View, Whittier, Parkview, Bennion, Backman, Washington, Rose Park, Meadowlark and Riley elementary schools and Glendale Middle School.

      The majority of the funding statewide will go to targeted elementary schools, although funding has been awarded to four middle schools and four high schools.

      The Granite District will receive $706,414 for six targeted schools, including Granite Park Junior High School and Granite High School.

      Jordan District will receive $219,534 to assist Midvale and Copperview elementaries and the Ogden School District will be allocated $514,301 for five schools.

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      Four Elementary Schools in the Provo District will receive funding, Joaquin, Franklin, Maeser and Timpanogos.

      Off the Wasatch Front, the San Juan District will be allocated $402,463; Tooele will receive $132,249 and Uintah, $145,000.

      According to the funding formula, San Juan schools were considered the most highly impacted statewide.

      The Highly Impacted Schools bill approved by the 1995 Legislature provides $4 million to 40 Utah schools. The goal of the initiative is to provide more individual attention to at-risk students with the goal of improving academic performance.