City News Roundup
The Los Angeles Unified School District has found a new name for the 298 overcrowded inner-city schools it has been calling rims--for Racially Isolated Minority Schools.
The school system has used that acronym since 1978 to identify the schools for which a court order required the district to hire extra teachers, improve facilities, and upgrade instructional materials. More than 300,000 Hispanic, black, Asian, and American Indian students attend those schools, which are located too far from mostly-white schools to be included in busing plans.
Because those students now make up 76 percent of the public school population, Superior Court Judge Robert Lopez, overseer of Los Angeles's current all-voluntary desegregation plan, said the label "minority schools" sounded discriminatory.
So the new name, according to Associate Superintendent Wilson Jordan, is raise--for Revitalized Achievement in Student Education.
As her first official budget action since becoming superintendent of the District of Columbia public schools, Floretta D. McKenzie last week com3piled what might be described as a "wish list" for the financially and academically troubled school system.
In a public hearing to unveil the 1983 school budget, Ms. McKenzie announced that she had surpassed by $40 million the $249-million budget mark set by the city's mayor.
Her proposal included re-hiring 500 of the more than 1,000 teachers whose jobs had been eliminated by budget constraints in the past three years.
In addition, Ms. McKenzie would reduce class sizes in elementary and junior high schools; restore driver education classes (which had been cut in a budget-reducing measure); increase spending for vocational, science, and industrial education and for school libraries; and add guidance counselors and handicapped-student evaluators to the personnel rolls.
Although a spokesman for Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. called the budget "unrealistic," Ms. McKenzie said the amount she requested is "maybe not as adequate as I would like."
As Ms. McKenzie has learned, it isn't easy to run a school system that is financially dependent on City Hall.
Old tensions between Buffalo's mayor and the city's school superintendent erupted this month when the mayor, James Griffin, appointed a special committee to examine the school district's financial practices.
School Superintendent Eugene T. Reville, calling the committee "an intrusion on the rights and authority of the superintendent of schools and the Board of Education," refused to serve on the mayor's panel.
"He has consistently underfunded6the schools," Mr. Reville said. "This committee is an attempt to justify it."
The mayor's decision apparently was prompted by a federal court order last summer requiring the city to come up with $3.1 million extra for the schools. Approximately 40 percent of the school system's $140-million budget comes from the city; the additional money was required by the court for school desegregation.
"Jimmy's a nice guy," the disgruntled superintendent said of the mayor. "We get along personally, but the differences between the mayor and the school board are traditional because of the funding arrangement. And he's fiscally very conservative."
Citing a "lingering problem" of violence in Houston's schools and ''unanswered pleas" to do something about the problem, the Houston Teachers Association recently announced that it will take the law into its own hands--sort of.
The association, which represents approximately 25 percent of the city's 10,000 teachers, has formed an independent, eight-member panel to investigate the extent of the problem in the 194,000-student district.
School Superintendent Billy Reagan was not impressed. He noted that assaults on teachers had dropped from 55 in 1979-80 to 33 last year and accused the teachers' organization of creating the panel for publicity purposes.
The panel will also make recommendations on how to reduce crime and vandalism in the Houston schools.