District News Roundups
Approximately 280 St. Paul school employees in clerical and other positions traditionally held by women will receive $570,000 in wages and pay raises as settlement of a "comparable worth" labor dispute.
An arbitrator on Jan. 31 ordered school officials to accept the pay-equity plan favored by the workers. The officials had advocated a $365,000 plan that would have determined the disputed wages by using prevailing market rates, rather than comparisons within the school system.
"The market itself is discriminatory," said Margaret Hoyos, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represented the workers. "We said salary comparisons should be made within the school system."
In 1984, Minnesota became the first state to direct all school boards, public agencies, and municipalities to pay women workers what they pay men in equivalent jobs. The workers who won the St. Paul dispute are the last large group of workers in the 4,500-employee school system to have their pay adjusted in accordance with the law.
School officials in the Oklahoma City area are anxiously awaiting a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that could cost them millions of dollars in property-tax revenues.
The court is expected to settle soon a dispute stemming from a major reassessment of property values in Oklahoma County, which includes the city and surrounding suburbs.
The reassessment, which tripled tax rates in some neighborhoods, led more than 12,000 area residents to file appeals with the county. County officials eventually agreed to cut the new rates by 15 percent, but school districts challenged that decision in court, saying the county had ignored legal deadlines related to the protests.
Ted Miller, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City district, said all of the tax money owed by the protesters--not just the 15 percent reduction ordered by the county--remains frozen while the state's high court reviews the matter.
According to Mr. Miller, the freeze has denied the Oklahoma City system about $3.4 million out of its $93-million budget. Other districts in the area have reported similar losses, he added.
School officials say they fear a court ruling favoring the protesters would fuel anti-tax sentiments in the legislature, which is currently considering a proposed sales tax to help fund education.
Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Probate Judge Francis J. Talty has chosen Mildred Madison to be the next president of Cleveland's board of education, ending a month-long deadlock that forced the six-member board to suspend its business and cancel two regularly scheduled meetings.
Since the resignation of a seventh board member in December, the board had been split, three to three, on the two leading candidates for the presidency, neither of whom was finally chosen.
Under state law, the probate court became involved after the board failed to select a president by Jan. 15. Nearly two weeks of court-supervised negotiations failed to break the deadlock between the two candidates, who share a similar agenda for the schools and are described by a school official as "close personal friends."
School officials denied that the dispute was racially motivated, although the candidates and their supporters were evenly split along racial lines.
Judge Talty also appointed Joseph Costanzo to be the seventh member of the board, resolving a second deadlocked vote.
A full-day magnet program for at-risk 4-year-olds is being organized by school officials in DeKalb County, Ga., as part of the district's desegregation efforts.
Officials in the suburban Atlanta district said the racially balanced program, which will be open to 80 students from both lower- and middle-income families, will begin in March. Parents will be required to take an active role in their child's education and will have to participate in school activities on a regular basis.
The city of Philadelphia has paid $53,000 over the past two years for private tutors for nine children of members of the radical group move.
The group was involved in a violent confrontation with police in 1985, which resulted in the deaths of 11 move members and the destruction of several blocks of homes.
The tutoring program, which is administered by the city's Urban Coalition and funded by the department of human services, was disclosed in a Jan. 31 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The program was begun after the city's board of education filed suit against the children's mothers for refusing to educate them, according to Harry Tischler, a lawyer for the school board. The children, ages 8 to 18, had had little or no formal schooling previously, he said.
Voters in Savannah, Ga., have overwhelmingly rejected a $179-million school-bond levy that would have funded major construction projects called for under the district's new court-approved desegregation plan.
The plan approved one year ago by U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield calls for the district to create 13 magnet schools, close 18 existing schools, and build 6 new ones. The school district, the naacp, and the U.S. Justice Department had agreed to the new plan to address concerns about the effectiveness of the district's current mandatory busing plan, which was implemented in 1971.
Officials of the 33,000-student Savannah/Chatham County school system said last week that they were implementing the new plan on schedule and that the implications of the voters' rejection of the levy were unclear. The school board was scheduled to discuss the matter in a meeting last week.
The developers of a $100-million shopping mall and office complex in Montgomery County, Md., will be required to establish a child-care center for the children of employees and nearby residents, under an arrangement approved by the county planning board.
Such arrangements, still fairly uncommon, are said to have been pioneered by the city of San Francisco, which last year enacted an ordinance mandating that major new developments within city limits include provisions for child care.
The Maryland agreement requires developers of the "City Place" project in Silver Spring to help plan, build, and manage a 140-child facility on a nearby site owned by the county.
The center would charge about $110 a week for infant care and about $55 for after-school care--rates 30 percent to 40 percent lower than those of other area facilities.
Parents would serve as trustees of the center and oversee its operation, said Robert J. DiPietro, vice president of government relations for Petri Dierman and Partners Inc., the project's developer.
The center is part of a package of amenities offered by the firm to justify exceeding the standard zoning limits in constructing the office building, he said.
An anonymous donor has promised to give the North Andover, Mass., school district up to $3.1 million to expand and improve drug-education programs--on the condition that such efforts show success.
The donor has established a $1-million "trust fund for drug-free schools" and provided an additional $100,000 for start-up costs, according to the district's superintendent of schools, George Blaisdell. In addition, he said, the benefactor will provide$1 million in each of the next two years if the programs produce satisfactory results.
An undercover drug investigation at a Round Rock, Tex., high school has led to the arrest of 22 people, including five juveniles.
While posing as a student at Westwood High School last fall, a female officer purchased cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and lsd, said Williamson County Attorney Kenneth Anderson.
Of the 22 arrested, five were high-school students at the time the drugs were purchased, he said, but three have since dropped out. Two are now enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. Also charged were a Round Rock couple in their late 30's. Other suspects were nonstudents in their late teens and early 20's.
The operation was the second of its kind in a year in the Austin, Tex., area. An investigation last year at Crockett High School in Austin resulted in charges against 35 people who sold drugs to an officer posing as a student.