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Help Pledged to District Officials Irked by Multiple Reform Tasks

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The Philadelphia Association of School Principals and the city's superintendent, Constance E. Clayton, have ironed out some friction that developed this fall over the logistics of putting Ms. Clayton's school-reform initiatives into effect.

"The story has a happy ending," Daniel J. McGinley, president of the pasa, said last week.

Members of the association, which represents middle-management employees in the 195,000-student system, had passed a resolution complaining of "a complete lack of attention to [the] pacing and coordination" of requests related to school reform-measures.

The resolution noted that the public-school principals and vice principals were "wholehearted" supporters of Ms. Clayton's initiatives for reform, which include a standardized, citywide K-12 curriculum; a more comprehensive program of achievement testing; an expanded voluntary desegregation program; and new guidelines for evaluating special-education students.

But the resolution also stated that the ensuing requests for reports and committee action had hampered the principals' ability to respond in a professional manner.

"The deadlines and directions set are often unrealistic, inadequate, and incomplete," the document noted.

'Just a Misunderstanding'

In recent weeks, Ms. Clayton has held two meetings with the principals' group. Both sides reported that the meetings were successful.

"I just think this was a misunderstanding," said J. William Jones, a spokesman for the school district. "The principals submitted a list of 46 different things that they've had to do from the beginning of school through mid-October. But really, only a half-dozen of them had to do with the superintendent's major new initiatives."

"The major concern," he added, "seemed to be that there was to be a proliferation of committees to tackle the new initiatives."

But Ms. Clayton, he said, told the principals that one committee--such as the school advisory committee, which is composed of staff members, parents, and community members--could handle all the new issues.

Clearinghouse Proposed

Mr. McGinley also said the pasa was pleased with Ms. Clayton's approval of the principals' request for a "clearinghouse" in the central office to coordinate the workload imposed on principals by various divisions within the administration.

"The idea is that the clearinghouse will try to space out these requests for reports throughout the whole school year, so three or four are not coming up in the same day," Mr. McGinley said.

"It's more like a coordination of efforts in a large and diverse school office so one office knows what another office is doing."

As a result, he said, Philadelphia now has a system in place to prevent the situations that led to the conflict in the first place.--lck

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