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Testing Their Patience

For some Arkansas teachers, the state's new computerized payroll system has been a blessing; for others, a curse.

Fourteen Arkansas school districts are testing the new system, which state law requires be in place statewide by 1998.

There have been some kinks, which district business offices have been trying to work out, but at least a few teachers might say don't bother: They received double the amount of pay they were supposed to.

"They were happy for a day or two until we told them we have to get it back," said Don Stewart, the assistant superintendent for business affairs for the Pulaski County schools.

But there may have been at least one teacher who was far from happy. According to the Pulaski Association for Classroom Teachers, one teacher got a check for $0.00.

But Mr. Stewart said that no teacher received a worthless check and that most of the problems have been ironed out.

Other districts reported that they did not have any problems beyond having to customize the system to their particular needs.

Officials of the Northeast Arkansas schools said that adjusting to the new system required a lot of paperwork, but added that once employees get used to it, the district will be able to cut down on waste.

The state bought the $2.2 million computer program from Pentamation, a software maker in Bethlehem, Pa., and is distributing it to districts free.

Stamping out Grape Juice

When thousands of Ohio County, W.Va., elementary school students sit down to quench their thirsts this year at school-cafeteria tables, they won't be able to--at least not with grape juice.

The school system has eliminated the beverage from lunch menus, citing disgruntled parents who had grown tired of having their children's school clothes ruined by the purple stains left behind by the juice.

But James Bock, the principal at Ritchie Elementary School in Wheeling, last week said he wasn't aware of any parents complaining about stains.

Mr. Bock hasn't let the loss of the beverage get him down, and apparently neither have any of the school's 400 students. "There's been no effect in amount of students eating," he said."

Ohio County schools Superintendent H. Lawrence Jones and nutrition director James Freeland both declined to comment on the revised menu.

--Laura Miller & Adrienne D. Coles

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