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Two Texas Districts Form Financial Partnership

Residents in a wealthy Texas school district voted this month to form a financial partnership with one of the state's poorest districts.

Under the plan, the well-to-do Grapevine-Colleyville district would give $500,000 to the Azle school district.

A Texas school-funding law gives wealthy districts the option of choosing a poor district to help out financially. Because its per-student tax base exceeds the state limit, Grapevine-Colleyville is required to send the state $9 million each year. Under the new plan, the suburban Dallas district, would send the state $8.5 million; the remaining money would go directly to the nearby Azle district.

School Supplies

San Francisco schools and teachers have reached a multiyear contract agreement that gives teachers more discretion in buying classroom supplies.

The agreement, announced this month by the district and the United Educators of San Francisco, will give each school about $4.20 per student, in addition to its normal supply budget, for instructional supplies to be purchased at the discretion of teachers.

Under the contract, teachers received an ongoing 3 percent annual salary increase and a one-time 1 percent salary increase.

Fatal Attack

A teacher in St. Louis died this month after an attack by a 4th grader.

Nedra Morris, a substitute teacher at Marshall Elementary School, collapsed after a struggle with a student who was angry because Ms. Morris asked him to stop drawing, police said. The student struck her in the chest several times with his fists, officials said. The teacher died of a heart attack, the city's medical examiner said.

The youth was in the custody of city juvenile authorities and had been suspended from school, district officials said last week.

Board Member Resigns

A Dallas school board member resigned this month after secretly taped conversations revealed he repeatedly used racial slurs.

Dan Peavy, who is white, issued a three-page statement with his Oct. 5 resignation letter expressing his remorse and apology.

In the most inflammatory section of the tapes, which were distributed to other board members anonymously, Mr. Peavy referred to Dallas schoolchildren as "ignorant goddamned little niggers."

Mr. Peavy's seat on the nine-member board will remain vacant until a special election in January.

Chelsea Improvements

The Chelsea, Mass., public schools are posting a reduced high school dropout rate and a boost in the number of children in early-childhood education, according to a recent report.

The dropout rate has fallen from 18 percent in 1989 to 7.8 percent in 1995, according to A Different September, a Boston-based foundation, in a report released this month. Enrollment in early-childhood programs among 3- and 4-year-olds has risen from 30 children in 1989 to 390 in 1995.

Boston University has managed the 4,200-student district since 1989--an unprecedented partnership between a private university and a public school system.

Halloween Ups and Downs

Reversing an earlier decision, the school board in Los Altos, Calif., decided last week to allow Halloween celebrations in the 3,200-student district.

The district earlier this month banned Halloween parties and parades during school hours after some parents said allowing children to dress up as ghoulish creatures interfered with their religious beliefs.

But school board members have since voted 4 to 0 that celebrating Halloween does not amount to devil worship, according to the board's president, Phil Faillace.

The Ashland, Mo., district, meanwhile, has canceled its elementary students' traditional Halloween costume parade.

"There is a great deal of negativity associated with Halloween--inappropriate costumes that contain violent themes," said David Decker, the principal at the district's only school, which enrolls 980 students in grades K-12. Several parents are appealing the school board's decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last year to review a lawsuit that challenged a Florida school's Halloween festivities as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

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