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Baltimore, E.A.I. Resolve Enrollment-Count Dispute

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Baltimore school officials last week appeared to have resolved a disagreement with Education Alternatives Inc. over enrollment counts, and they issued a generally favorable evaluation of the for-profit company's first year running nine district schools.

Walter G. Amprey, the district's superintendent, and E.A.I. officials were expected late last week to jointly issue a statement saying they had reconciled their conflicting enrollment figures for the nine schools with the help of auditors from the Maryland Department of Education.

Earlier reports had suggested that E.A.I. might have to repay the district about $500,000 because it had been reimbursed for teaching 250 more children than its schools actually had enrolled. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1994.)

The state and district had undercounted enrollment at these schools by between 65 and 80 students, meaning the enrollment overcount attributed to E.A.I. was not as high as first claimed, the statement says.

The revised enrollment counts reduce the excess amount paid to E.A.I. to $370,000. Because each party still may owe the other for other expenses under the terms of their contract, the ultimate impact of the enrollment adjustment on the company's earnings from the district was unclear last week.

As a result of the recount of students at the nine schools, the state appears to owe the Baltimore school system about $150,000 in aid, district officials said.

Overall High Marks

An evaluation of the firm's performance in its first year at the nine schools was released last week by Denise Glyn Borders, the district's chief of educational accountability.

The evaluation concluded that the physical condition of the schools was "dramatically improved,'' and that the company had provided many new computers, an abundance of instructional materials, and almost all of the instructional interns it had promised.

Teachers generally gave high marks to the company's overall efforts and the weekly staff-development programs it provided. Parent involvement and satisfaction also were rated high.

The evaluation added, however, that the company needs to address personnel issues, such as confusion in the respective roles of teachers and interns. It also called for the company to refine its bookkeeping related to the federal Chapter 1 program.

Ms. Borders said the problems identified in the review typically accompany the implementation "of any major educational initiative.''

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