City News Roundup
With school aid harder and harder to come by these days, it hurts to see it slip through your hands.
An error by the New York City Board of Education in counting the number of handicapped pupils it serves will cost the city about $30 million in state education aid, state and city officials revealed late last month.
The city undercounted its handicapped students last summer, and the New York legislature drafted its state-aid formula based on the incorrect figure.
The board of education discovered its error last month.
It is unclear whether the city will get state aid for the newly identified handicapped students.
Under the New York education formula, handicapped pupils who spend an hour or more per day in special resource rooms are entitled to be counted as 1.9 pupils for purposes of reimbursement by the state.
In another development, the city's mayor, Edward I. Koch, last week appointed a panel to look into the effectiveness of New York City's special-education program and to recommend ways of cutting costs.
The panel will include Schools Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola, Deputy Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr., and Alair A. Townsend, director of the city's office of management and budget.
Its creation reflects Mayor Koch's frequently aired concern over the growing size of the city's special-education program and his belief that federal and state requirements for special education are excessive and expensive.
Chancellor Macchiarola sharply criticized the appointment of the panel, accusing city administrators of pretending to support special-education programs while not providing enough money to run them.
The city has increased its special-education budget from $153 million in 1979 to $340 million this year.
Three public high-school officials and the city of Hartford, Conn., have been named as defendants in a suit filed on behalf of a 17-year-old student who was shot during classes last October, allegedly by a fellow student.
Willard Coppedge, who suffered a stomach wound from a .32-caliber pistol, charges that an industrial-arts teacher, Sebastian LaBella, knew that his assailant was carrying a gun and also alleges that the school system was negligent in enforcing security measures. The shooting resulted from an argument over a $1 debt.
The suit does not request a specific amount in damages; any monetary award would be determined by a jury. The suit claims that Mr. Coppedge still suffers pain and fatigue as a result of injuries to his liver, spleen, lung, and large intestine.
A salary concession by teachers in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, may have persuaded voters in that economically depressed district to approve a large override levy while nearby communities were turning levies down.
The city's teachers--following the lead of the district's superintendent, Barry Steim, who forwent a 10-percent raise earlier this year--voted overwhelmingly to accept a pay increase for 1982-83 that will be 8 percent lower than the raise they had negotiated.
The teachers gave back approximately $500,000, according to officials of the school district. In partial compensation for the cut in anticipated salary increases, the district will pick up a larger share of the teachers' insurance premiums.
The concessions enabled the school board to keep its request for an override levy under $1 million, which school officials say may have been an important factor in its approval.
On the same day that voters in Coeur d'Alene approved the levy, their counterparts in the nearby mining towns of Wallace and Kellogg rejected requests for tax increases. The $977,000 raised by the override levy will constitute about 10 percent of Coeur d'Alene's school budget next year and will avert a layoff of about 30 teachers, school officials say.
Courses in "flag twirling" and "school spirit" are among the offerings that will come under scrutiny as a part of the school superintendent's plan to upgrade academic standards in Provo, Utah.
A curriculum committee is reviewing the district's graduation requirements "with a view toward raising standards," according to Superintendent John W. Bennion, and will also examine some electives, including school spirit and flag twirling, to determine whether they have any educational value.
Teachers have been instructed not to use "entertainment movies and television" in classes unless they have demonstrable educational value and to ensure that students use computers for educational purposes, not to play computer games.
"Senior Sluff Day," a free day for high-school seniors prior to final exams, and "Lagoon Day," a spring visit to an amusement park for junior-high students, have been cancelled.
"Some students have asked that we wait until next year before cancelling these," Mr. Bennion said.
Vol. 01, Issue 34