Cities News Roundup
School doors opened on time for 443,000 Chicago public-school students last week after a complex financial agreement balancing the district's $1.3-billion budget finally won approval.
The School Finance Authority--a five-member oversight panel created to keep the district out of debt--accepted the budget one day after voting to reject the agreement crafted by school administrators, teachers, and city and state officials. (See Education Week, Sept. 8, 1982.)
The authority first turned down the accord because the school board's three-year financial plan projected deficits that could reach nearly $100 million in future years.
But, after consulting with Mayor Jane M. Byrne, the authority reversed itself when the Chicago Teachers' Union agreed to amend a proposed contract with the school board to stipulate that a controversial provision requiring the board to pay teacher-pension contributions would expire after one year.
That concession enabled the authority to deduct $52 million from projected expenditures, significantly reducing the projected deficit.
Even as the union made what most observers consider to be a face-saving gesture for the authority, its leaders signaled that teachers would expect both continuation of the pension payments and salary increases in future contracts.
"The public should appreciate that this year we didn't get a raise,'' said Robert M. Healey, president of the teachers' union. "Next year won't be the same."
This year's contract provides no across-the-board pay hikes and asks teachers to give up a day's pay to save the district nearly $4 million.
Demographic change, not "white flight" from desegregation, was the major reason the Cleveland city schools have lost 50 percent of their students in the past 14 years, according to a report filed this month with the federal district court.
The study, prepared by the court-appointed Office on School Monitoring and Community Relations, concluded that a declining birthrate, the city's overall loss of population, and "unfavorable economic and political conditions," contributed to the decline in enrollment from more than 153,000 students in 1967-68 to about 75,000 in 1981-82.
The report also noted that:
Enrollments have declined in both private schools and suburban public systems throughout Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland. The city was the only district in the county to come under a desegregation order during the period studied.
Blacks as well as whites have transferred out of the city system, although in smaller proportions.
The changing racial composition of the city school system (from about 57 percent black in 1970 to about 70 percent black in 1980) is attributable primarily to demographic changes in the city as a whole.
"During the first two years of desegregation implementation, 1979 and 1980," the report says, "the maximum possible contribution of desegregation to enrollment decline in the Cleveland school system is estimated to be 4,834 students, which is 20 percent of the total enrollment decline of 23,909 students in these years. The actual contribution of desegregation to enrollment decline in these two years is likely less than this estimate."
The Chase Manhattan Bank will give the New York City board of education $430,000 to fund a two-year project for the city's 110 high-school principals.
The project will focus on the "key leadership role of the principal'' in curriculum development and innovation, bank officials said last week.
The principals will take part in workshops, seminars, and conferences conducted by educators, business leaders, and management consultants. Some local university facilities will also be used.
The city's school system developed the project in cooperation with the New York Alliance for the Public Schools--a 3-year-old consortium of university, civic, corporate, labor, and schools leaders.
An investigation by the controller's office of the Philadelphia school system has revealed that its teachers and administrators have written textbooks and sold them to the school district.
In doing so, they have violated Pennsylvania's ethics law, and the acting superintendent, Charles A. Highsmith, has announced that any royalties earned from such illegal activity by the administrators must be turned over to the district
However, he said that principals and employees below that rank may keep profits from the sale of books to the district for use in any school but their own.