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Houston Weighs Options After Defeat of Bond Plan

Voters in the Houston school district have rejected a $390 million bond that would have helped build 15 new schools and renovate 84 existing ones.

Fewer than 10 percent of registered voters in the 207,000-student district voted in the May 28 election, with 53 percent voting against the levy.

In light of the failed plan, Superintendent Roderick Paige said in a statement that the district, the nation's seventh largest, would have to consider ideas such as renting buildings for more classroom space or instituting year-round schools and extending school schedules.

Political Buttons Banned

San Diego teachers cannot wear political buttons while teaching students, a state appeals court there has ruled.

The three-judge panel last month said political advocacy in the classroom could affect teachers' relations with their students.

The case stems from a 1993 suit filed by teachers in the 138,000-student district against the school board over a policy banning political buttons during the school day. The California Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers' union, may appeal the decision. Its legal representatives were not available for comment.

Deadline for Baltimore

Gov. Parris N. Glendening of Maryland has vetoed a bill that would have withheld nearly $6 million from the Baltimore city schools after he received a commitment from the mayor to financially restructure the ailing district.

The governor has given Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke 60 days to come up with a plan to overhaul the school district or again risk losing $5.9 million in state funds.

State education officials said the mayor's plan could include such changes as replacing the school board with a board of directors, cutting school administrative costs, and dropping pending lawsuits against the state.

Bus-Service Shakeup

The Chicago public schools have severed contracts worth $1.75 million with eight of the 45 companies that provide bus service to the district, citing safety concerns and mismanagement.

A recent audit showed that some companies had failed to meet new safety standards, had routinely overcharged the district, and had not reported accidents promptly, the district said in a statement.

"If a driver is repeatedly involved in accidents, we want to know why," Francisco DuPrey, the district's manager of transportation services, said in a statement.

The 413,000-student district has adopted new policies for dealing with violations by bus companies, which transport about 50,000 students each day.

Uniform Attire

The school board in Birmingham, Ala., has adopted a dress code that will take effect this fall for all of its 43,000 students.

Acceptable attire for grades K-8 will consist of black or blue pants and white shirts for boys. Girls will wear black or blue pants, skirts, jumpers, or walking shorts, and white blouses with collars.

High school students will have the option of wearing khaki bottoms and light blue shirts and blouses.

The school board approved the policy late last month, citing among other concerns safety and security, school unity and pride, and the rising cost of clothing.

"Parents indicated that students spent too much time choosing outfits," said Jequette E. Harris, spokeswoman for the district.

Snip Decision

A western Pennsylvania teacher accused of cutting off a 6th-grade girl's ponytail has been suspended with pay while district officials consider disciplinary action.

The student told officials in the 1,209-student Farrell district that the teacher lopped off 4 inches of her hair last month during a detention period. The girl said the teacher had threatened to cut her hair when other students serving detention refused to be quiet.

The girl's parents complained to local police, who did not press charges.

Superintendent John G. Sava declined to release the name of the teacher or the student. He said the school board will have 10 days after a June 19 hearing to decide what action to take.

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