Mass. Student Bank Runs Afoul of State Regulators

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The students at Easton (Mass.) Middle School are back to borrowing their lunch money from sympathetic teachers now that the Massachusetts Banking Commission has shut down their student-operated bank.

Begun three months ago as a learning experience for 6th graders in the school's "high-ability learners" program, the bank was forced by the state's bank examiners to close its doors because it lacked a charter (which costs $200,000), charged too much interest on loans, and used the word "bank" without state permission, according to Ann Hoyle, who directs the program.

"I thought it would be a wonderful learning experience," Ms. Hoyle said. "I was quite shocked when I learned we had to close up."

According to Ms. Hoyle, the students raised money for their bank by selling shares to fellow students, cafeteria workers, and teachers at $1 apiece.

The would-be capitalists then began lending students money for lunches and other minor expenses. Customers were not allowed to borrow more than $1.50 from the bank at any given time, and were obligated to pay 2-percent interest on every 25 cents borrowed.

The students also operated a small store, stocked with pencils, pens, crayons, and puzzles, the profits from which were funnelled into the bank.

The problems began, Ms. Hoyle said, when a state deputy bank examiner came to speak to the class. When the bank's officers explained how their bank operated, the examiner pulled out a legal pad and proceded to cite their violations.

"At this point, we're closing out, but hopefully we'll be get approval to open next year," Ms. Hoyle said. She added that her class is working with a state representative to amend the state's banking laws in order to get the school bank back in business.

District News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 34, May 18, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.

District News Roundup

The Whitman Middle School in Yonkers, N.Y., was closed this month after a health official judged the building an immediate hazard to the 653 7th and 8th graders who attended school in it. The building was closed despite the school district's contention that it could keep the building hazard-free until the school year ended on June 27.

The dispute began in April when the district, complying with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirement, inspected all its buildings for the presence of friable, or crumbling, asbestos. The inspection showed that at the Whitman school, extensive work would be required to remove the asbestos. Since the material could not be removed by the June 28 deadline, the district would have been required to inform the community and school personnel.

The district superintendent, Joan Raymond, elected to tell the community immediately, as soon as she knew that asbestos was present. But her plan to employ special safety measures and keep the building open was opposed by the community, which asked the county health department to inspect again.

The county inspector, who took samples from tiles, said the building must be closed within seven days if the cafeteria and the auditorium could be closed, sooner if they could not. That wasn't possible, so Ms. Raymond closed the school immediately.

"We maintain that we could have kept that building hazard-free until June 27 if we'd been given a chance," said Devorah Heller, coordinator of information services for the district. "But it was not to be."

The students and teachers were reassigned to two other buildings and were scheduled to resume classes May 11. The Whitman school will be closed for about a year for a removal program expected to cost about $2 million, Ms. Heller said.

A school district in Minnesota is considering closing for the month next January to save half of the $90,000 that it did not receive when district voters refused to support a 5-mill increase in local tax levies.

According to Superintendent Kenneth R. Helling of the 430-student Karlsbad school district, the tax-levy increase would have raised property taxes by an estimated 10 percent. He said shutting down schools for January was being considered along with other options including starting later in the year and ending earlier and adopting a four-day school week.

The proposal to close in January has several advantages over other options, according to Mr. Helling.

He said that the district could save more on energy costs; that the loss of class time and days would be less noticeable; and that the shutdown would cause less hardship for nonteaching employees, such as bus drivers, who could receive unemployment compensation.

Schools would add 30 minutes to the regular school day, he said.

The principal of a Massachusetts high school this month suspended 450 students for walking out of class to protest budget cuts. He then reacted to the cuts by staging a rally of his own that attracted 5,000 students.

The students at Brockton High School left classes and marched on city hall to protest Mayor Paul Studenski's plans to lay off 180 teachers and eliminate the after-school sports program to help balance the city's budget.

Robert Reagan, the principal of the 5,100-student school, said the students who staged the walkout were suspended for five days.

Mr. Reagan said he did not approve of the unofficial rally, but he agreed with the students' right to express themselves on the budget issue. He then scheduled a rally (which the mayor attended) and allowed students out of class one hour early to attend it.

Action on the budget is at a standstill because the mayor, who has sole authority to make spending recommendations, subsequently got sick. The City Council may only accept or reject the mayor's proposals.

Federal News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 34, May 18, 1983, p 2

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.

Federal News Roundup

The Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped last week approved measures to extend for three years the federal laws governing education of the handicapped and vocational-rehabilitation programs.

The measures, which were scheduled for action in the Labor and Human Resources Committee last Friday, would include a new federal program to help handicapped high-school students more easily make the transition from school to college or employment.

The new program would strengthen high-school vocational programs to train handicapped students and develop projects to help handicapped students succeed in college.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Lowell P. Weicker, Republican of Connecticut, said he would seek higher federal appropriations for the $1.1-billion special-education program and the $1-billion rehabilitation program. Mr. Weicker also is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the programs.

Congressional supporters of Title IX, the federal law barring schools and colleges that receive federal dollars from discriminating on the basis of sex, have introduced measures in the House and Senate calling for stricter enforcement of the statute.

The introduction of the non-binding resolution was triggered by recent actions by the courts and the Reagan Administration designed to narrow the scope of the law, its sponsors said at a press conference at the Capitol last week.

"Recent legal and administrative interpretations of Title IX are threatening this law's effectiveness," said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut. "By introducing these resolutions, Congress is making it clear that Title IX is to be enforced."

"We want to send a message to the courts and to the Administration,'' added Representative Claudine Schneider, Republican of Rhode Is-land. "The intent of the law is not to be subverted."

The Reagan Administration last week asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to uphold a regulation that would require federally funded clinics to notify parents when they prescribe contraceptives for minors.

An lawyer for the Justice Department, which is appealing a ruling against the regulation by a federal district judge, said the Administration believed that "it's entirely legitimate for a parent to be involved in family-planning decisions of an adolescent child."

The rule was developed in response to a 1981 amendment to the Public Health Services Act that said federally funded clinics should "to the extent practical" encourage family participation in their activities.

The regulation also was struck down in a suit in federal court in New York City. The Administration also has appealed that decision.

State News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 34, May 18, 1983, pp 2-3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.

State News Roundup

The Republican-controlled Idaho legislature refused to increase education funding last week during a special session called by Gov. John V. Evans.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the same education budget that they had passed during the regular session, which adjourned in April.

Governor Evans, a Democrat, who wanted more money appropriated for education, had vetoed the legislature's education budget.

Governor Evans wanted $13.2 million in additional 1984 allocations for public schools, higher education, agricultural research, and vocational schools.

The legislature appropriated $215 million for public education, $70 million for higher education, $8.5 million for agricultural research, and $13.4 million for vocational schools.

The Governor will not call another special session, a spokesman said.

A tax-limitation measure will be on the Florida general-election bal-lot in November, 1984.

It would limit annual increases in state and local revenues to two-thirds of the increase in the inflation rate and hold down increases in property-tax revenues to 5 percent or the two-thirds limit, whichever is lower.

The measure would cost the state $1.2 billion in the first year, and the revenue loss would mean large cuts for education programs, according to Karen Walby, an economist for Gov. Bob Graham.

"Starting with 1980-81 receipts as a base, each succeeding year's maximum receipts would be calculated as the previous year's base plus growth based on a two-thirds rise in the consumer-price index for the last calendar year," Ms. Walby said.

Under the tax-limitation measure, estimated state revenues from would be cut from $6.4 billion to $5.2 billion in 1984-85, she said.

The Governor is not opposed to tax-limitation measures as long as they allow for economic and population growth, Ms. Walby said. Florida is expecting 1.5 million more inhabitants by 1985.

Budget cuts may eliminate one program area and nine teacher positions at Boston University's School of Education.

The school's dean, Paul B. War-ren, has recommended to the university president that the program in humanistic education and human services and its staff be eliminated next fall. Besides being costly, the program is also "ill-defined," Mr. Warren said. The school's other three programs, in educational leadership, counseling, and special education, would remain intact.

Under the collective-bargaining contract, the university can cut positions for academic reasons, but it must try to find other jobs for those teachers within the university system. Five tenured faculty positions are among the nine that would be terminated if the recommendation is approved.

A faculty review committee is now considering the recommendation and will report in July, Mr. Warren said.

The joint education committee of the Massachusetts General Assembly has approved a measure that sanctions voluntary fingerprinting of schoolchildren.

The measure calls for the departments of education and public safety to draft guidelines for a fingerprinting program.

Several communities in the state have begun fingeprinting students as a means of aiding police in identifying children who are reported missing.

Prior to the committee's endorsement of the measure, Commissioner of Education John H. Lawson sent a letter opposing such legislation on the grounds that existing state regu-lations already permit school districts to conduct fingerprinting programs. Terry Zoulas, spokesman for the department of education, said that the commissioner believes that the legislation is unnecessary because schools already have been advised on appropriate fingerprinting procedures.

The measure must now be approved by the full legislature.

City News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 34, May 18, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.

City News Roundup

The Queen's Gambit, a recent work of fiction by Walter Tevis that is climbing up the bestseller lists, is the story of an eight-year-old girl who learns to play chess in the basement of an orphanage and eventually becomes an international grandmaster.

In a case of life imitating art, students from Elementary School 27, located in a low-income section of Indianapolis, came away from Memphis earlier this month with the National Elementary School Chess Championship.

According to Robert Cotter, a teacher at the school who organized the student chess club three years ago, students became interested in the game "because it is the only sport we can afford."

"Many people think chess is too cerebral for children this young, and at the beginning it was slow and painstaking," Mr. Cotter said. "But when we started we set a goal of winning the national championship in May 1983. We never lost sight of that."

Playing chess, he added, has also helped the students academically. ''They've come to realize that to become a nationally-respected competitor you have to read well," he said. "They have to read whatever chess literature they can, including Soviet chess magazines. Most of it is geared to adult an readership, so they have to study at home. Probably the most important thing this has done is to teach them to concentrate. They can stay on one task longer than 90 percent of the kids their age."

Mr. Cotter said school officials are talking to Soviet Embassy officials in order to arrange a tour in that country.

Parents and students in the Cincinnati school district appeared to be divided in their opinions of the safety and discipline policies of the schools, according to a recently released survey by the district.

About 82 percent of the parents surveyed said that their elementary-school students were safe in school, and about 76 percent said that the discipline was good--4 and 5 percent increases from a similar survey taken in March, 1981.

The district received 7,892 responses in the direct-mail survey for a return rate of 57 percent, a district spokesman said.

About 56 percent of the high-school students said they felt safe, but only 41 percent of the junior-high students said they felt safe.

Forty-two percent of junior high school students and 44 percent of high school students said that their schools' discipline was good.

Some 53 percent of the high-school students and 37 percent of the junior high school students said that they could buy drugs in schools.

School officials said the survey strengthened the district's commitment to converting the remaining six junior high schools to middle schools to help alleviate the "growing pains" that such students experience.

Cleveland's school-bus drivers struck just after midnight last Wednesday, forcing about 30,000 of the city's 78,000 students to find another way to get to school.

The drivers, who are represented by a local unit of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, have been working without a contract for nearly two years and have been negotiating with the school board since August.

The major issues, according to a union spokesman, are not economic. They include disciplinary procedures; the association's demand for an ''agency-shop" provision requiring all employees covered by the contract to pay union dues, whether or not they are union members; limits on the board's authority to hire substitute drivers; and release time for officers to conduct union business. Drivers have also complained about poor maintenance of the district's fleet.

The union notified the school board late Tuesday that drivers "were tired of the continued delay in effective negotiations." Later in the evening, the drivers reaffirmed a strike-authorization vote taken in February.

Superintendent Frederick D. Holliday said that schools would remain open and that students were expected to attend. The district made public-transportation passes available to students.

A federal mediator entered the talks Wednesday morning. Ohio law prohibits strikes by public employees, but government agencies have often chosen not to invoke the statute.

News Updates

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 34, May 18, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.

News Updates

Barry L. Steim, the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, superintendent who in recent weeks was criticized for using school-system funds to attend law school, has resigned.

Mr. Steim, who had headed the 6,800-student district for six years, said he had been working 80-hour weeks to keep law-school and college-teaching commitments in addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of his superintendency.

He had also been criticized for accepting a $6,000 expense account to cover law-school tuition and travel expenses in lieu of a raise; the critics charged that he had said he would forego a pay raise for this school year as a way of persuading teachers to moderate their salary demands.

Ms. Steim's resignation is effective immediately. A replacement to the $42,500-a-year job has not yet been named.

Vol. 02, Issue 34

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