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We need every family in Metro Schools to fill out these two forms.

Last year we asked you to fill out two forms and send them back to school so we could know more about your family. It was a big success! We learned a lot and got the information we needed.

Well… now it’s a new year, and we need to do it again.

On August 25, your child will bring home two forms.
They must be filled out and returned by August 26.


What are these forms?
One form tells us who your child is, where you live and how to get in touch with you. The other helps us know how many of our families are economically disadvantaged.

Why do you need to know that?
There are two big reasons:

  1. Money – Without this information, your school could lose money. Certain kinds of federal and state money – including money used to buy technology – are partially dependent on the number of students who are economically disadvantaged. We need to know how many there are so our schools can get all of the resources they need.
  2. Accountability – We are required by the state to track the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students. Failure to complete this form could have an effect on your school’s accountability status.

What will the survey ask?
The survey will ask some very simple questions:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Phone number
  4. Number of people in your household
  5. A range of income for your household

That’s private. What if I don’t want to share it with you?
We completely understand the concern. But there are two really important things to know about your personal information:

  1. We will never share it with anyone. It will always stay private. We promise. Your answers are put together with everyone else’s and reported as a percentage, with no names or identifying information attached.
  2. We don’t want to know how much money you make. The form only asks for your range of income. We don’t want to know an exact number.
Take a look at this year's Household Information Survey

Take a look at this year’s Household Information Survey

Is there another way for you to get this information?
We used to collect this information with the Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals. If you’ve never filled out that application, then you have probably never seen this form. Because we now offer free meals to every student without an application, we need a new method to keep track of our economically disadvantaged families. This is it.

What if I’m not economically disadvantaged or don’t want your free lunch? Do I still have to fill this out?
Yes. We need this form from everyone. It’s not a requirement to get free breakfast and lunch. Everyone gets that already. But we need you to fill out the form so we can get the funding we need to serve all students. If you don’t fill it out, we won’t know if you’re economically disadvantaged or not, and we do not want to miss even a single family.

What is the student information form, and why do I have to fill it out?
There are thousands of Metro families with out of date contact information in our system. This summer, we mailed home nearly 44,000 report cards. Thousands were sent back to us with incorrect addresses. We clearly need a better way to keep this information up to date, and this is it. We need to be able to reach you if there is urgent news from your school, there is some sort of emergency, if school is closed due to weather or any number of good reasons.

How do I fill it out?
The form shows your child’s information as it is in our system right now, including address and phone number. Please hand write corrections directly on this form and return it to school by the next day (Wednesday, August 26). We will take your corrections and note them in our system. If there are no corrections needed, please write “NO CORRECTIONS” and send it back to school by the next day.


Again, these forms will be sent home when August 25 and needs to be returned August 26. They will also be available at our Enrollment Centers.

Thank you in advance for helping us capture this vital information about our families!

New website helps families and neighbors keep track of Metro Schools construction projects

Smith Springs Elementary School, Opening August 2015

Smith Springs Elementary School, Opening August 2015

School construction and improvement projects are happening all over Nashville, and the community now has a brand new tool to keep track of it all. MNPSConstruction.com launched today as a new website dedicated to sharing information about every major construction project in Metro Schools. It gives taxpayers an open and transparent document of how Metro Schools spends capital funds to improve schools.

The website includes a comprehensive view of all on-going or recently completed projects, including a detailed description, cost and completion date for each one. There will also be regular updates of construction work along with progress photos and renderings of the proposed final design.

“We have been very fortunate in terms of capital funding in recent years, and our team has been very busy building and improving schools,” said Ken Murdock, director of the Facility Planning and Construction Department. “We have a lot of projects underway right now. Nashville residents deserve an easy way to monitor the projects that affect them and see that we are being good stewards of their tax dollars.”

Proposed renovation plans for Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

Proposed renovation plans for Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

In addition to project information for the general public, MNPSConstruction.com also includes job bid information for architects and contractors. This increases transparency around the bidding process and makes it easier for architects, contractors and suppliers to participate.

There are currently 22 major construction projects in progress or recently completed in Metro Schools. These projects are designed to meet enrollment growth, relieve overcrowding and update older buildings to the needs of a modern school.

Capital improvements are funded through capital spending plans proposed by the Mayor and approved by the the Metro Council. Thanks to their consistent support over the last several years, Metro Schools has made steady progress on a long list of capital needs.

“Nashville has seen an enormous amount of growth, and our district has had to keep up,” said Murdock. “This year we need to start tackling some long overdue projects on the slate and also start preparations for some of the largest high school projects we have seen in many years. We are hopeful that the capital improvement budget will be approved and we can get started meeting the next wave of serious need in our schools.”

Proposed addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School

Proposed addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School

The 10-year capital master plan details $1.3 billion dollars in capital improvement needs. The Metro Council voted last night to approve $131 million for capital funding in fiscal year 2016. This includes money for a number of large projects, including:

  • $30 million for a total renovation of and addition to Overton High School
  • $30 million for a total renovation of and addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School
  • $19 million to build a new elementary school in the Cane Ridge area
  • $6 million to renovate Rosebank Elementary School
  • $4 million for an addition at Pennington Elementary School
  • $2 million to convert the unused southeast public library into an Early Learning Center for prekindergarten
  • $5 million to begin planning for the eventual renovation or reconstruction of Hillsboro and Hillwood High Schools, as well as Nashville School of the Arts

It also includes $35 million in spending for technology, new school buses and smaller district-wide projects.

MNPSConstruction.com is online now and will be updated monthly with new information and photos.

Metro Schools Budget Book wins sixth consecutive national award

Cementing the Metro Schools budget and finance team as one of the best in the business, Metro Schools has once again won the Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation from the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO). This is the district’s sixth straight win for this award.

The Meritorious Budget Awards (MBA) program promotes and recognizes excellence in school budget presentation and enhances school business officials’ skills in developing, analyzing, and presenting a school system budget. After a rigorous review by professional auditors, the award is conferred only on school districts that have met or exceeded the program’s stringent criteria.

“School budgets are vast and complicated, but ultimately it is taxpayer money, and they deserve to know how their money is spent,” said Chris Henson, Metro Schools’ chief financial officer. “Our team works hard to ensure our budgets are transparent and easy to understand. That’s not always an easy task, but it is worth the effort.”

The 2014-15 Budget Book is available on MNPS.org along with the five previous award-winning budget books. It includes an in-depth look at all of the district’s finances including local funding, state funding and federal funding. It also includes deep dives into individual school budgets, a feature that will grow even richer in the next budget book as all Metro schools take control of their finances through the student-based budgeting model.

The 2015-16 budget process is underway now. The first draft of the operating budget includes increases for English Learners, wrap-around service for families and literacy, as well as extra pay for teachers who take on leadership roles. Important documents, dates and explanations of where the money will go can be found on MNPS.org.

Metro Schools principals are taking control of their school budgets

Starting next year, half of the Metro Schools operating budget – more than $400 million – will be directly under the control of school principals. They will decide how that money can best be spent to benefit their students, choosing everything from staffing to instructional strategies and what extra support services to offer.

It’s the completion of a plan that’s been phased over the last two years, and it gives principals the power to design how their schools operate and how they teach children. It’s called student-based budgeting, and it is exactly what it sounds like: schools’ budgets are based on the students they serve and those students’ needs, not district regulations and mandates.

Student-based budgeting is a pretty big change from the way school funding is traditionally done. As the district moves forward with this, these are the six things you need to know about it.


1. It’s all about the students.

Schools will be funded according to a formula that’s based on the students who are in the building. That doesn’t just mean the number of students, but also the characteristics of those students.

The amount of money each school gets is based on individual student needs. Schools will get a base amount of money in their budgets for each student served, and that amount will go up depending on certain factors like exceptional education needs, English Learner status, prior academic performance and more. This brings greater equity to school budgeting because funding is the same for similar students no matter where they go to school.

2. Principals have the power.

Principals need the ability to make decisions based on their professional expertise and knowledge of their own students. With student-based budgeting, principals are empowered to design their schools. They will be encouraged to try innovative practices and make whatever decisions are necessary to build schools that deliver instruction tailored just for their students.

For example, if a principal feels like his or her students need an extra school counselor, he or she can build that into the school budget. The same is true if the school needs and intensive ACT prep program or more English Learner teachers. It’s all up to the school leader.

When school design decisions are made closer to the students and not handed down from central office, instruction can be more personalized to student needs.

Robbin Wall

3. It means more money for English Learners and others.

Metro Schools intends to dramatically increase direct spending on English Learners. EL status is a significant predictor of academic success, and EL students need greater supports in the classroom.

To give schools the flexibility to better serve their EL students, they will get more money for each EL student they serve. The same will happen for students with disabilities and students who have struggled academically.

4. It will give greater support to struggling students – no matter where they go to school.

Prior academic performance is by far the greatest predictor of future academic success, so students who are behind academically will be funded at a higher level. So that schools can get these students back on track early, even more funding will be given to elementary and middle schools for each struggling student they serve.

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5. It could mean more money for many schools.

Right now, some Metro schools are funded at much higher levels than others with similar needs. This happens for a lot of reasons, including special status like enhanced option schools. Because student-based budgeting allocates money according to students and not other factors, it will bring equity to school budgets by funding similar schools at similar levels.

This could mean some schools will see greater funding next year, though that would require an increase in the district operating budget. But the results will be worth it: more equitable funding to serve students with similar needs.

6. Intentionally small and other specialty schools will be funded sustainably.

Not every school will be a part of the program. Schools that are intentionally small or operate specialty programs – like the Academy at Old Cockrill, MNPS Virtual School, alternative learning centers and others – will have some flexibility over budgeting, but must be funded in a different way to ensure they are viable and able to operate.

Also, principals will have direct control over a large portion of their school budgets, but not everything. Services like transportation, maintenance, human capital, and others will still be provided centrally.


You may be wondering: where did this idea come from? The district’s strategic plan, Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student, sets forth a vision for every Metro school to create personalized learning environments. Meeting individual students’ needs through tailored instruction looks different at every school. The strategic plan specifically states that schools should create personalized learning environments “influenced and determined by their school’s unique identity, context and capacity.”

Creating personalized learning environments requires an equitable distribution of resources to meet individual student needs and meaningful flexibility to allow principals to tailor their learning environment. Student-based budgeting makes this possible.

It is a popular program nationwide. New York City, Denver, Boston, San Francisco and several other major American cities already do it. It’s easy to see why. Student-based budgeting just makes sense. School leaders know their students and what they need better than anyone else. If principals are to be held accountable for the results of their school, they should be the ones making the school design decisions.

Read more about student-based budgeting in this fact sheet.

We need every family in Metro Schools to fill out these forms. There’s a lot of money at stake.

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Tuesday, August 26 your child will bring home two forms. They must be filled out and returned by the next day, Wednesday, August 27.

What are they?

One form is called the Household Information Survey. It helps us know how many of our families are economically disadvantaged. The other is called the Student Information Form. It tells us who your child is, where you live and how to get in touch with you. Take a look at both of them right here:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.38.15 PM   Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.37.29 PM

The first form asks about my household income. Why do you need to know that?

There are two big reasons:

  1. Money – Without this information, your school could lose money. Certain kinds of federal and state money – including money used to buy technology – are partially dependent on the number of students who are economically disadvantaged. We need to know how many there are so our schools can get all of the resources they need.
  2. Accountability – We are required by the state to track the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students. Failure to complete this form could have an effect on your school’s accountability status.

That’s private. What if I don’t want to share it with you?

We completely understand the concern. But there are two really important things to know about your personal information:

  1. We will never share it with anyone. It will always stay private. We promise. Your answers are put together with everyone else’s and reported as a percentage, with no names or identifying information attached.
  2. We don’t want to know how much money you make. The form only asks a yes or no question about your income. We don’t want to know how much you make or even a range of income. We only want to know if it is above or below a certain number. 

I’ve never had to fill this out before. Why now?

We used to collect this information with the Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals. If you’ve never filled out that application, then you have probably never seen this form. Because we now offer free meals to every student without an application, we need a new method to keep track of our economically disadvantaged families. This is it.

What if I’m not economically disadvantaged or don’t want your free lunch? Do I still have to fill this out?

Yes. We need this form from everyone. It’s not a requirement to get free breakfast and lunch. Everyone gets that already. But we need you to fill out the form so we can get the funding we need to serve all students. If you don’t fill it out, we won’t know if you’re economically disadvantaged or not, and we do not want to miss even a single family.

I’ve also never filled out a student information form. Why do I have to now?

There are thousands of Metro families with out of date contact information in our system. Last summer, we mailed home 45,000 report cards. Nearly 10% were sent back to us with incorrect addresses. We clearly need a better way to keep this information up to date, and this is it. We need to be able to reach you if there is urgent news from your school, there is some sort of emergency, if school is closed due to weather or any number of good reasons.

How do I fill it out?

The form shows your child’s information as it is in our system right now, including address and phone number. Please hand write corrections directly on this form and return it to school by the next day (Wednesday, August 27). We will take your corrections and make them in our system. If there are not corrections, please write “NO CORRECTIONS” and send it back to school by the next day (Wednesday, August 27).

Is that it?

No. It isn’t.

Thank You

Thank you for helping us collect this very important information about you and your child. We want to give your school the best opportunity for success. With your help tonight, we can ensure our students get the funding and support they need.

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We want to give every four-year-old in Nashville access to prekindergarten

UPDATE: The Board of Education approved turning Ross and Bordeaux Elementary Schools into model pre-k centers for the 2014-15 school year, as well as creating new pre-k classes at Casa Azafran on Nolensville Road. This is the first step in our pre-k plan. Step two means adding 340 new pre-k seats to these schools, which is dependent on funding. Next year’s operating budget goes before the Board, the Mayor and the Metro Council later in the spring.


Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will be a national model for early childhood education.

You’ve heard a lot about it this week. It’s one of Dr. Register’s top priorities for Metro Schools and one of the best ways to make a real difference in student achievement. It benefits all students, helps close achievement gaps and gives a particular leg-up to low-income and English learner students.

We’re serious about expanding prekindergarten, and cannot wait on the state or others to help fund it.

“We have set ambitious goals for equity and excellence in our public schools. In order to meet those goals, we must start early, with every child, offering the very best foundation for learning,” says Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register.

Our idea is this: prekindergarten for every four year old in Nashville who wants and needs it.

Four-year-olds in Nashville

As a first step, we propose expanding and reconfiguring what we already have. Rather than try to add individual classrooms here and there, we propose opening model pre-k centers in existing schools in key areas of town: East and North Nashville.

The idea is to convert Bordeaux and Ross Elementary Schools into model pre-k centers that only offer pre-k classrooms. We chose those two schools because they are in walkable neighborhoods but also close to interstates and main roads. They will be easily accessible to many families.

What does a model center look like?

  • Stimulating and supporting interactions between teachers and children
  • Focus on academic preparation AND social-emotional development
  • Individualized instruction for all students
  • Comprehensive services, including for parents and families
  • Educated and well-trained staff
  • Coaching and mentoring for staff

But of course quantity isn’t the only concern. There must be a focus on quality for every pre-k seat we offer. In these centers, students will get full-days of instruction (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), along with fee-based before and after care. They will be in nurturing learning environments that stimulate and support their cognitive, social and emotional development.

We are working with leading early childhood education experts from area universities to ensure these schools will truly be model centers, modeling best practices for early childhood education and offering wraparound services to students and families. They will also serve as professional learning communities for educators, spreading these best practices throughout the district.

To further serve and better identify our gifted and talented students, gifted education will be available at our pre-k centers, should the plan be implemented. These centers will serve gifted students all day, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., using curriculum designed to nurture and advance their talents.

So what will this look like in reality? If approved, this plan would move existing pre-k classrooms into Bordeaux and Ross Elementary Schools while also creating brand new pre-K classrooms in these buildings. Let’s look at the raw numbers:

Ross Elementary School

  • 13 pre-k classrooms, including 7 new ones
  • 260 pre-k students
    • 120 students currently served at Caldwell, Ross and Glenn
    • 140 additional students served in the 7 new classrooms

Bordeaux Elementary School

  • 10 pre-k classrooms, including 6 new ones
  • 200 pre-k students
    • 80 students currently served at Cumberland and Bordeaux
    • 120 additional students served in the 6 new classrooms

TOTAL: 260 new pre-k seats for the 2014-15 school year

To make this a reality, the Board of Education must vote to approve this plan in an upcoming meeting. Any additional costs will then be included in the district’s capital and operating budget requests to the city.

The school board’s approval is all that is needed to change to the use of Bordeaux and Ross elementary schools and change the elementary school zones. Metro Council has line-item approval on the district’s capital budget and also approves an overall amount – but not specific items – for our operating budget.

Research shows pre-k benefits all children. Further, benefits exceed costs to the community. There are long-term improvements to high school graduation rates, years of education, lifetime earnings, crime and teen pregnancy – even in instances when pre-k does not show a difference on test scores.

READ the research into the long-term benefits of pre-k that go well beyond test scores.

To make a real change in student achievement and overall outcomes in Metro Schools, we will start at the very beginning. Connecting four-year-old children in Nashville with a structured, supportive and educational environment will benefit our community.

See the full presentation on the pre-k expansion plan given to the Board of Education on January 14, 2014.

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DOWNLOAD this presentation.

Five years, five budget awards for Metro Schools

Five in a row.

For the fifth consecutive year, Metro Schools has won the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials International.

The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) has awarded Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools its Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) for excellence in budget presentation. The award is conferred only to school districts that have met or exceeded the Meritorious Budget Award criteria.

To earn this award, the school district submitted its 2013–2014 budget for a rigorous review based on stringent criteria.

Developed by ASBO for school districts, the MBA criteria guide school business officials toward a quality school budget presentation by enhancing the school business officials’ skills in developing, analyzing, and presenting a school system budget.

This year’s budget book is 228 pages and goes into an incredible amount of detail on every dollar spent by Metro Schools. It even includes actual per-pupil spending for every school in the district. Take a gander at the book over on our sister blog, On Public Education.

School Shuffle: Rose Park Middle Magnet School

Where will I go to school next year? A few of our Metro schools and programs will be moving for the 2013-14 school year, temporarily or otherwise. To make sure you know where to go on the first day of school (August 1st – did we mention that already?), let’s do the School Shuffle:

We’re very fortunate in our district to have Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville all support our district through funding for capital projects. The average age of the buildings in Metro Schools is 42 years old, and as we work to improve and update our schools and facilities, we sometimes have to move schools and programs to temporary facilities.

Rose Park Magnet Middle School, just recognized as one of the top performing schools in the nation, is one of those schools undergoing major renovations.

Rose Park (grades 5-8) is moving over to an empty Johnson School on 1200 2nd Avenue  South for the 2013-2014 school year. The move and wait will be worth it for students.

Rose Park will undergo an extensive renovation, expanding the school from 93,000 square feet all the way to 127,000. The project will completely remake Rose Park’s building, including mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire protection.

The building was originally constructed in 1965, so these improvements will definitely modernize a growing school. After Rose Park has won SO MANY AWARDS recently and with enrollment on the rise, it deserves to be modernized.

Remember:

  1. Rose Park students will go to the Johnson School building starting August 1, 2013.
  2. Programming will not change. The school will remain a rigorous math and science magnet school with the same school choice population.
  3. The school is adding Chinese to its related arts program, including high school credit classes.
  4. Transportation plans are evolving, but they may include bus transportation for students in the Edgehill neighborhood.

School Shuffle: Joelton Middle School

Where will I go to school next year? A few of our Metro schools and programs will be moving for the 2013-14 school year, temporarily or otherwise. To make sure you know where to go on the first day of school (August 1st – did we mention that already?), let’s do the School Shuffle:

We’re very fortunate in our district to have Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville all support our district through funding for capital projects. The average age of the buildings in Metro Schools is 42 years old, and as we  work to improve and update our our schools and facilities, we sometimes have to move students to temporary facilities.

One of these projects is a major renovation of the aged and inadequate building at Joelton Middle School.

Joelton Middle is set to undergo a total renovation. It is quite a project, and afterward the school will look stunning. It will be modernized and better prepared for 21st century learning. Construction will go on through all of next school year, so the question is, what do we do with the students at Joelton Middle in the meantime? They can’t remain in the school because the project is just too big.

Students at Joelton Middle (grades 6-8) will spend the 2013-14 school year at Haynes Middle School, where Haynes and Joelton students can share a space while remaining in their own separate schools. Rising fifth grade students at Joelton, Cumberland and Lillard Elementary Schools will remain at their schools for fifth grade.

Important to note:

  1. The schools will not be merged. Haynes will continue to be a choice school. Joelton will return to its own building when the renovation is complete for the 2014-15 school year.
  2. Joelton students inside of the Haynes facility will be in a separate area of the building.
  3. Each school will keep its own principals, faculty and athletic programs (we expect the relationship with I.T. Creswell to continue).
  4. The schools will share common areas, like the gym and the cafeteria, according to a set schedule.
  5. Because the schools have different start times, students will arrive and dismiss at different times.

There is more than enough space in the Haynes building to accommodate both schools. Each has its own strong traditions and holds its own special place in the community. These will be preserved during this one-year adventure.

Most importantly, both Joelton and Haynes have the teachers, leadership and family commitments to create great schools.

Budget Update: Where do we stand now?

Last night we heard for the first time how Mayor Dean plans to fund the district in the next budget year. His office proposes a budget of $746,420,300, which is an increase of 3.61%.

When the Mayor conducted his budget hearing earlier this month, he indicated the district’s operating budget would increase, but the increase would be less than requested. We expected the Mayor’s budget proposal for schools to be in this range. We will be very thoughtful in revising our proposal with a focus on increasing student achievement – as always.

We now have a lot of work ahead of us to come up with a revised budget. Once it’s complete, we’ll present it to the Board of Education for approval. From there it moves on to the Metro Council for inclusion in the city’s overall budget.

We were also very pleased to learn of the Mayor’s plan for $95 million in capital spending for schools next year. That money is sorely needed to improve and expand our schools and build new ones.

Take a look at the list of projects included in this proposal:

SCHOOL ADDITIONS AND NEW BUILDINGS

  • Antioch Cluster New Elementary School (800) – $16,899,000
  • Granbery Elementary School 12 CR Addition – $3,079,000
  • Madison Middle School 12 CR Addition – $3,105,000
  • Maxwell Elementary School 12 CR Addition – $3,079,000
  • Shayne Elementary School 12 CR Addition – $3,079,000
  • Waverly Belmont Elementary School Add (600) and Renovation – $8,500,000

Sub Total – $37,741,000

SCHOOL RENOVATIONS AND REPLACEMENTS

  • Goodlettsville Middle School Replacement (800) – $20,176,000
  • Julia Green Elementary Site Improvements – $275,000<
  • McGavock High School Fire Safety Improvements – $750,000

Sub Total – $21,201,000

DISTRICT-WIDE PROJECTS

  • ADA Compliance and Accommodations – $1,000,000
  • Asbestos, Environment Abatement – $1,000,000
  • Asphalt Paving – $1,000,000
  • Bus Replacement – $3,000,000
  • Casework, Furniture, and Lab Upgrades – $1,000,000
  • Emergency Maintenance, Entry Vestibules – $1,200,000
  • HVAC Upgrades and Replacements – $5,400,000
  • Plumbing and Boiler Upgrades – $2,500,000
  • Roof Repair and Replacement – $3,000,000
  • Security Upgrades – $5,000,000
  • Stadium, Track and Lighting Upgrades – $2,000,000
  • Technology – $10,000,000

Sub Total – $36,100,000

The capital budget will also go before the Metro Council.

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