District News Roundup
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which has made deep cuts in its budget for the past three years, is projecting a budget deficit of at least $258 million for the 1992-93 school year.
Robert Booker, the district's chief business and financial officer, called the deficit "the worst budget problem I have seen in this school district'' and warned that it could increase by as much as $100 million when inflation and enrollment growth are taken into account.
The projected deficit includes $75 million to partially reimburse the district's self-insurance funds, $59.9 million to restore and increase an emergency-reserve fund, and $98.5 million to begin to repay district employees for a 3 percent pay cut and restore salaries to the 1990-91 level.
In a budget briefing, Mr. Booker noted that the district's reserves and one-time money have been exhausted and that the projected deficit cannot be eliminated without slashing jobs, salaries, and benefit costs.
A federal judge in Chicago has ruled that the Boy Scouts of America may exclude those who are not willing to pledge a "duty to God.''
In an 80-page ruling on March 13, Judge Ilana Rovner of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that the Boy Scouts are not a public "place of entertainment'' and therefore do not have to comply with Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said Mark Dupont, a law clerk for Judge Rovner.
The statute prohibits discrimination by such public establishments as restaurants, hotels, or nightclubs on the basis of race, religion, or national origin, Mr. Dupont said.
The ruling came after a trial last summer on a 1989 lawsuit against the Boy Scouts filed by Elliott Welsh and his 9-year-old son, Mark, of suburban Hinsdale, Ill.
The Welshes, who are agnostics, sought an injunction barring the Boy Scouts from excluding individuals who do not believe in a Supreme Being and sought admission to a local Cub Scout pack, according to Mr. Dupont and Richard Grossman, the Welshes' lawyer.
Mr. Grossman said the Welshes were "disappointed'' with the "surprising'' decision. They will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, he said.
Blake Lewis, a national Scout spokesman applauded the decision. "We believe Judge Rovner's ruling is a reaffirmation of our right to determine the qualifications of members'' of the Scouts, he said.
Teachers in East Chicago, Ind., continued to strike last week, defying a superior-court judge's order that they return to work.
The district's 420 teachers have been on strike since March 9 despite a state law that prohibits teacher strikes. During the work stoppage, school officials have attempted to administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress examinations, which were supposed to have been completed by March 18.
Students in grades 10-12, who do not have to take the exams, remain out of school indefinitely, said Norman Comer, the superintendent of schools. The school system has about 7,100 students.
The East Chicago Federation of Teachers Local 511 rejected a school-board contract offer that included pay raises of 5.5 percent for 1992 and 6 percent for next year. The union has argued that 4.2 percent of the raise will be eaten up by higher health-insurance costs.
Victoria Candelaria, the president of the local, maintained that the strike is not only about money. "It is a matter of priorities,'' she said.
The union, which charges school officials with creating a patronage system of employees who are paid high salaries for little work, has released daily lists of names, titles, and salaries of employees it considers unnecessary.
A state-appointed fact finder was scheduled to meet with union and school-board negotiators this week in an attempt to resolve the conflict.
The Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations has denied a bid by the Madison teachers' union to have a middle school declared an unsafe workplace because of attacks on teachers there.
John Matthews, the executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said the union had hoped the state would close Cherokee Middle School until corrections were made, forcing the school district to "deal with the situation.''
The school has recently logged some 30 to 40 violent incidents, including threats against teachers' lives, school officials said.
However, the state agency only inspects buildings for structural safety and has no authority over the behavior of people in a building, according to Howard Bernstein, a lawyer for the department.
"What we know about is asbestos, wiring,'' he said, "not how to make the building safe from other people.''
Though the union's request was denied, Madison school officials have increased school security and have appointed a task force to resolve the school's safety problems. Administrators will also consider implementing 30-day residential schools for disruptive students, self-esteem programs, and other measures recomended by a previous task force.ÿFDÄÄ
'At least we've made some progress,'' Mr. Matthews said.