SUBJ: District News Roundup
5 Schools, Study Consolidations Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston has announced the closing of at least five Catholic high schools and the possible merger or closing of several elementary schools.
The announcement came with the release of a two-year-long strategic planning study for the archdiocesan schools, which, like many others nationwide, have seen failing enrollments and rising costs in recent years.
Closing in June will be St. Gregory's in Dorchester, Cardinal Cushing Central in South Boston, Mission High in Roxbury, Girls Catholic in Malden, and Sacred Heart in Weymouth.
Because of declining enrollments, fewer than 500 students will be affected by the high-school closings, said Sister Mary Jude Waters, the head of the planning committee that conducted the study.
A sixth high school, St. Columbkille in Brighton, will be closed unless it can be merged with Trinity High School or another school, the archdiocese said.
Several elementary schools in Charlestown and Dorchester will be considered for consolidation, Sister Waters said. The two Charlestown schools--St. Francis and St. Catherine--would be run under a new "interparish" model with all three parishes in the area funding the school's operation.
Although three of the high schools to be closed are in areas with large minority populations, Sister Walters denied that the church is abandoning its mission to the needy, as some critics have charged.
"We're not abandoning [our commitment], but strenthening it and trying to ensure we can stay there," she said.
Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez of New York City has added five more city high schools to the list of those subject to unannounced, twice-weekly metal-detector searches.
The move brings to 21 the number of high schools in which some students are scanned with hand-held metal detectors as they enter school, the chancellor's press secretary, James Vlasto, said. Officials will increase the number of searches per day from three to four schools.
But the addition of schools has not been accompanied by more funds, Mr. Vlasto said, so the size of the unarmed security-guard teams that perform the searches will be scaled back from 40 to 30 persons.
The searches, which began in November 1988 at five schools, have been turning up weapons, but mostly non-firearms, he said. Eleven firearms were confiscated last year, he said.
"The results are very encouraging," Mr. Vlasto said.
The number of violent incidents inside New York schools has also been dropping in recent years, he said.
The Dayton, Ohio, public schools will install metal detectors and begin a system of student identification cards to combat the spread of weapons and drug use in the city's junior and senior high schools.
Approximately 6,000 students will be affected by the security measures, enacted in partnership with the Dayton City Police force, which promises to work in close cooperation with the schools to ensure "quality of instruction."
Portable walk- through detectors for the city's five high schools and handheld detectors for the seven middle schools are now available to be used as needed.
The guidelines also call for color-coded identification cards for all high-school students and more consistent enforcement of the policy prohibiting the carrying of electronic devices, such as beepers. The measures are expected to cost the district approximately $50,000.
While the school system has not experienced widespread drug or weapons problems, the potential for disruption from outside influences has increased the need for stricter policies, said James A. Williams, the superintendent of schools.
A group of high-school students in Prince George's County last week broke windows and stole merchandise from a shopping mall during a demonstration against cuts in education funding in the county.
As many as 200 students from Bowie High School, had left classes and were marching on city hall to protest the cuts when the violence broke out, officials said.
Two students were suspended in connection with the incident, and the school has promised to make restitution for the lost goods.
Elsewhere, students walked out of classes, picketed, and conducted a "sleep- in" protest at a high school one night.
The students were protesting $15.7 million in cuts the school board made from its $574-million budget the week before due to falling state and county revenue.