District News Roundup
The superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., public schools has opted to retire early at the end of this year in the wake of negative public reaction to a school-board plan to add his early-retirement benefit to his current salary as a means of keeping him on the job longer. The plan nearly doubled his earnings, making him the highest paid superintendent in the nation.
Because the superintendent, William J. Burkholder, is 55 and has worked in the Fairfax County school system for 28 years and in the state's school system for 33 years, he is now eligible to receive about $77,800 in annual early-retirement benefits until he reaches age 60.
About $46,000 of that amount would come from the county's early-retirement plan, which was instituted in 1973 to attract and retain excellent personnel, Mr. Burkholder said. The rest of the money, he added, would come from the state's retirement plan.
In an attempt to keep Mr. Burkholder for another four years, the county's school board offered to supplement his $79,450 annual salary with the amount necessary to "equal the money he would lose by not leaving the system," said Mary L. Collier, chairman of the board.
But when local newspapers reported that under the arrangement Mr. Burkholder would receive $157,000 a year, the resulting public outcry prompted Mr. Burkholder to announce his retirement.
"I just felt that because of the controversy, it was in the best interest of the school system," Mr. Burkholder said. "It's an unfortunate controversy, but it was one that was created by the complexity of the system and the difficulty of the average citizen in Fairfax County to understand what was involved."
Mr. Burkholder, who started his 33-year career as a school-bus driver, said he was surprised at the public reaction because "we have the exact same agreement this year."
The superintendent, who turned 55 in April, said he is receiving compensation in lieu of retirement benefits in the amount of $75,000 over a 14-month period.
The mayor of New York City has appointed a four-member panel to review the controversy surrounding the suspension of a high-school football coach who ordered his team to forfeit its opening game of the season.
The coach, Jim Walsh of George Washington High School, said he took the step because he feared his players would be injured by competing against a larger, more powerful team.
"He had a long-time contention that his team should not be in the A division, the city's league with the best football teams," said Larry Simonberg, a spokesman for Mayor Edward I. Koch. "[Mr. Walsh] says his team should be playing in the B league, where the schools don't have that much emphasis on football."
In New York City, high-school football is governed by the Public Schools Athletic League, which every two years re-evaluates the placement of teams in either the A or B divisions.
At the end of the 1981 season, George Washington was moved from the B division--where its previous two-season league record was 10 wins, one tie, and one loss--to the A division.
The team's combined A-league record for 1982 and 1983 was no wins and nine losses.
Mr. Walsh had unsuccessfully appealed his team's assignment to the A league.
He was suspended indefinitely for insubordination by the New York6City Board of Education's division of high schools after he ordered his team to forfeit its opening game against an A-division opponent.
The Oklahoma Board of Education has adopted controversial regulations that will limit to 10 the number of days a year that students may be excused from class for extracurricular activities.
State funding for a district may be deducted or withheld, the new regulations state, if local school officials allow students to be excused for extracurricular activities more frequently than that.
Under the regulations, adopted by the state board last month, the local superintendent of schools and school board are instructed to review annually the scheduling of extracurricular activities to make certain that such activities cause no more than minimal interruptions during theel40lstudents' school day.
Each school district then is responsible for maintaining records to verify for state officials that the conditions of the regulations have been met.
The state board adopted the new regulations, according to Richard Butler, administrative officer of the accreditation section of the department of education, in response to recommendations from a panel appointed by the state superintendent of schools last spring to study the problem of absenteeism in the public schools.
At a hearing to review the regulations recently, the new policy was criticized for penalizing students who are especially active in extracurricular programs, particulary those participating in 4-H or Future Farmers of America programs.
"Change is difficult," Mr. Butler said of the criticism, but he added that state officials have adopted the policy out of concern for academic excellence.
Gov. George Nigh fully supports the new policy because it will maintain an "appropriate balance" be3tween academic and extracurricular activities, a spokesman for the Governor said.
As part of an unusual contract agreement reached this past summer, teachers in the East Detroit public-school system will receive an additional pay raise if final enrollment figures, scheduled for release Oct. 31, exceed projected figures.
According to John F. Gardiner, superintendent of the school system, the district offered members of the East Detroit Federation of Teachers a 6-percent pay hike based on a $21-million budget and a projected enrollment of 7,200.
The union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, requested that the district's 340 teachers receive a 0.1-percent pay increase for each 10 students above the projected 7,200.
Although enrollments in East Detroit schools have been declining, the system's projected figures may be low if this year's stepped-up marketing campaign for the district's adult- and continuing-education programs succeeds in attracting additional students.
For the past few years, school officials have looked to increased enrollment in adult- and continuing-education programs for severalel30lreasons, including the maintenance of a steady flow of enrollment-based state aid, Mr. Gardiner said. The state will pay about 25 percent of the district's budget this year.
"We've been criticized by some for taking a crass, commercial approach to education. But educators have to begin to look at new and different ways to bring in potential students," Mr. Gardiner said. "The young people are just not around anymore."