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The road to Richmond Hill High School is paved with gold--or so it might seem to a couple of lawyers.

In trying to acquire a two-acre tract of land for a road to a new school, the Bryan County, Ga., school system has become caught in a legal battle that already has cost it far more than it estimated the property to be worth.

When the district, near Savannah, first offered to buy the land in 1992, the owner wanted about $40,000. The district balked at the price, acquired the land through condemnation, and built its road.

The deedholder, a local developer, responded by condemning the district to a costly legal limbo. He has sued the school board, challenged a court-appointed negotiator's settlement of about $31,541, and appealed a state court's decision. His lawyer now says the land is worth about $80,000 and possibly more because it now has a road.

After three years, the district has $43,000 in legal expenses and still risks ending up with no land to show for its efforts. "We are victims of the legal process," Superintendent Perry K. Bacon lamented last week.

But, as expensive as the fight may seem, the district cannot afford to give in, Mr. Bacon said.

The developer says he pays too much in local property taxes to tolerate being pushed around.

A few weeks before their junior-senior prom, some students in suburban Denver were told that they'd find more than candy and school mementos in the traditional gift bags distributed at the dance. The word was that their send-off packages would include condoms.

Weeks before the annual event, 370 parents of Highlands Ranch High School students received a letter--on school stationery--stating that because of the school's "astonishing" number of sexually active juniors and seniors, the administration would dispense prophylactics to promgoers.

The letter was signed "Shirley Joshing." But the signature alone apparently wasn't enough to tip off all the parents that the letter--apparently a senior-class prank--was bogus.

Administrators, who had to answer dozens of phone calls from irate parents and send out hundreds of letters explaining the situation, were not amused.

Glenn Lyden, the school's assistant principal, said last week that the students involved will be reprimanded if caught.

--Peter Schmidt & Jessica Portner

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