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Ruth B. Love, Chicago's superintendent of schools, has asked for a probe of allegations of widespread drinking and marijuana use among school bus drivers.

The charges, made last week by the Better Government Association and radio station WCFL, stemmed from a four-month investigation by the association and reporters from the station. They contend that drivers employed by Spears Transportation Inc., which holds a $9.1-million contract with the school board this year to transport 20,000 students, routinely use alcohol and marijuana before and during work.

One driver reportedly told bga investigators that "on a bad day" more than half of the company's drivers are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during their afternoon trips. Investigators said they witnessed several incidents of drinking and marijuana use among drivers between trips.

Officials of the school system said they were not aware of the alleged abuses until bga and WCFL made their report public last week. The Spears firm, one of several companies providing bus service to the district, also denied knowledge of the alleged misconduct.

Ms. Love has asked Cook County's regional school superintendent, who reports directly to the Illinois State Board of Education, to examine the charges. In addition, she has asked the Chicago police to help monitor the conduct of bus drivers and has ordered principals to supervise the loading and unloading of children "so that we are in good touch with the drivers," a spokesman said.

The Dallas school district is being asked to contribute nearly $434,400 toward an intensive city drive to collect delinquent city and school taxes. That is the district's share under its contract with the city for tax-collection services.

School officials have become alarmed at the declining level of voluntary property-tax payments and welcome the city drive, said a spokesman for the district.

The collection drive, which will cost nearly $1 million, includes $173,000 to fund an automated lawsuit-filing program, and $750,000 to collect taxes owed on real estate and personal property. Only the promising cases--less than half the total number--will be pursued, said an assistant city manager.

Parents in Pittsburgh went back to school recently--not to adult-education classes, but to a series of 13 workshops intended to refresh their knowledge of the basic skills their children are learning and to teach them a few "tips of the trade" to motivate their children.

The classes, which have drawn about 40 parents so far, are an outgrowth of the district's Monitoring Achievement in Pittsburgh program, in which parents are notified of students' levels of skill in 20 different areas.

"Since parents are being notified on how well their children are doing, we thought it was important, if we want parents to contribute, that they understand the information and be able to help their children,'' said Pat Crawford, information coordinator for the district.

Officials also teach parents the new vocabulary used in the fundamental disciplines. Parents who grew up "carrying" when they multiplied and "borrowing" when they subtracted will not be able effectively to help a child who was taught that he or she must "regroup" the numbers. "Regrouping is Greek to parents," Ms. Crawford said.

Vol. 02, Issue 20

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