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A judge has ordered the District of Columbia school system to address its nearly 5,700 fire-code violations and told the fire chief to close any school that continues to have life-threatening hazards in September.

After six days of testimony and unannounced visits to three district schools, Judge Kaye K. Christian of the D.C. superior court ruled this month that local authorities had broken the law by failing to regularly inspect schools and allowing widespread fire-code violations. (See Education Week, June 8, 1994.)

Paying for the Extras: After voters narrowly defeated the Rice Lake, Wis., school district's efforts to raise more money for next year's budget, the school board has established a committee that will search for a way to pay for sports and extracurricular programs. (See Education Week, May 18, 1994.)

The district has been snared by a state law that limits property-tax increases. A referendum to raise school spending by $275,000 was defeated by a vote of 2,600 to 2,400.

The panel is expected to report to the board this month after poring through the district's $15 million budget.

A First in Oregon: The nation's first certificates of initial mastery, a credential certifying the skills of secondary students, were awarded last week to 150 sophomores at Cottage Grove (Ore.) High School.

Students were required to demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social sciences, a second language, and the arts at levels comparable to those of 16-year-olds in other nations. (See Education Week, June 10, 1992)

Once students complete the certificate of initial mastery, they can work toward a certificate of advanced mastery in one of six career tracks, with an emphasis on college-preparatory work or professional-technical classes and apprenticeships. Beginning in spring 1997, all students in Oregon will be expected to earn the certificate by grade 10.

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