News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Chicago Archdiocese Mulls School Closings
After Failure of Private-Education-Aid Bill
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is considering closing some schools, after the Illinois legislature failed to pass a measure that would have directed $12 million in aid to private and parochial schools.
After determining that they did not have the necessary votes to pass the proposal this month, lawmakers decided instead to use the money to shore up two existing funds for books and transportation for both public and private schools. The $48 billion state budget was subsequently passed and now awaits approval by Gov. George Ryan, a Republican.
The failure to approve the new aid drew cheers from the Illinois Education Association and other public education groups, which called the proposal unconstitutional.
But Doug Delaney, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said the outcome had struck a blow to the archdiocese, which educates one out of seven students in Chicago.
"Catholic schools don't teach religion all day," Mr. Delaney said. "They teach math and science and reading. It's a great financial benefit to the state and local taxpayers to keep the schools open."
—Jessica L. Sandham
N.C. Auditor Urges Closing Schools for Deaf
North Carolina's state auditor has recommended shutting down one or two of the state's three special schools for the deaf and hearing-impaired, and consolidating operations.
State officials found that enrollments have steadily declined in the past 10 years, while per-pupil costs have risen dramatically. The facilities also need an estimated $52 million in repairs.
"Our examination revealed declining enrollments and increasing operation costs for the schools," state Auditor Ralph Campbell said in a statement released with the audit this month.
The report also shows that while no single teaching method worked for all hearing-impaired students, those who attended classes in regular schools had higher test scores and higher graduation rates than their peers in the special schools.
In a response to the audit, state Secretary of Health and Human Services H. David Bruton, whose agency oversees the schools, said he agreed with the findings and recommendations.
—Joetta L. Sack
Vol. 19, Issue 33, Page 30