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Salem Teachers Return After Two-Week Strike

Teachers in Salem, Mass., returned to work last week after a two-week walkout, and several districts around the country neared settlements in contract disputes.

The 506 teachers in the 4,800-student Salem district returned to their classrooms Nov. 15 after accumulating $80,000 in fines. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Donovan levied the $20,000-a-day fines after ruling the teachers were in contempt of her order to return to work.

Teachers also reached agreements in Concrete, Wash., Niles, Ill., and Boise, Idaho. Negotiators in the 26,500-student Boise district reached tentative agreement Nov. 15 after a pay dispute between the teachers' union and district officials. A vote on the agreement had not been scheduled as of late last week.

Teachers in the 5,200-student Round Lake (Ill.) District 116, meanwhile, continued their strike that began on Oct. 17.

Year-Round Program: Students in two Trenton, N.J., elementary schools will attend school year-round beginning in July as part of a three-year pilot program.

Students at one school will attend classes for 45-day blocks broken up by 15-day "intersessions"; the other school will hold classes in 60-day blocks with 20-day breaks.

Students can use the intersessions for vacation time or additional education programs to be offered at the schools.

The year-round pilot program is the first in the state, officials said.

The board will review a proposal next month that would give students the option of participating in the year-round program or attending traditional school-year classes.

Sexual Assault Charges: A high school band director faces 107 counts of sexual assault after three teenage girls in Rolla, Mo., accused him of molesting them, police said.

John C. Lizotte, 32, was arrested earlier this month and charged with the assaults, which allegedly took place over a three-year period. He was released after posting a $150,000 bond.

Mr. Lizotte is charged with engaging in oral and sexual intercourse--sometimes in his classroom--with three teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16, according to court documents.

The school system has suspended him with pay pending the outcome of the trial.

Mr. Lizotte's lawyer, Roger Brown of Jefferson City, Mo., said the charges are fabrications that will be disproved in court.

"There is no way this could have taken place," Mr. Brown said.

A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 29.

Teachers Drugged: Authorities have offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the suspected drugging of two Texas high school teachers during a power blackout on Nov. 2.

"We still don't know what happened; it's being investigated," said Rey Farias, the principal of the 1,600-student Los Fresnos High School in the Rio Grande Valley.

Mr. Farias said blood tests have not determined what, if any, drug was slipped into the teachers' soft drinks during the outage.

Since the incident, only one of the two women has returned to work. Both experienced dizziness and other symptoms, though neither was hospitalized.

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