District News Roundup

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Judge Luke Brown of South Carolina's 14th Circuit Court has agreed to dismiss criminal indictments against the Beaufort County (S.C.) Board of Education after the board signed an agreement saying that it would no longer exceed the budget set for it by the Beaufort County Council.

Circuit Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh Jr. said that 10 current and former members of the board and Robert Salisbury, the district's superintendent, had been indicted last month by a grand jury following an investigation that indicated that the board had exceeded the council's budget from 1979 through 1982 by a total of $650,000.

Beaufort County is the only county in the state that has a law making it illegal for school districts to exceed budgets set by the city council, according to Mr. Murdaugh.

Detroit's school district has begun experimenting with an early-retirement program that officials there hope will cut costs and save younger teachers' jobs.

All teachers between 55 and 62 years old who have at least 30 years' experience--including 10 years in Detroit schools--who voluntarily retire early will receive a bonus of $5,000 a year from the district until they reach age 62. The plan was negotiated last month by the school board and the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

Detroit teachers with master's degrees can earn as much as $29,700, while beginning teachers with bachelor's degrees earn $15,000. The plan assumes that the teachers at the top of the salary scale will retire and be replaced by beginning teachers.

The plan will become cost-effective if 70 or more teachers accept the district's offer, said Paula Dent, its assistant director of personnel. If fewer than 70 teachers sign up, the district will cancel the program, Ms. Dent said.

Letters to eligible teachers went out two weeks ago and so far "a great deal of interest" has been shown, she said.

The Roman Catholic school system of the Diocese of Cincinnati has returned stock donated by Warner Amex, holder of the city's cable-television franchise, because the cable firm has added the Playboy channel to its local offerings.

The Rev. Jerome A. Schaeper, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said that when Warner Amex was awarded the city's cable franchise, the firm donated stock to about a dozen local civic institutions, including the city public-school system, the Catholic schools, colleges, and the ywca

Because the cable franchise is new, Father Schaeper said, he did not know how much the stock was worth; press accounts have estimated that the Catholic schools could have earned more than $70,000 per year in dividends.

"When they decided to bring the Playboy channel in, because the philosophy of the Playboy group is antifeminine and hedonistic, we felt it would not be appropriate for the Catholic schools to own the stock, so we returned it," Father Schaeper said. Xavier University, also a Catholic institution, is the only other recipient that returned the stock.

County prosecutors have reportedly been investigating the Playboy channel for possible violations of obscenity laws.

The Cleveland school-bus drivers' strike continued last week, as the school board and the drivers' union failed to reach agreement on the one remaining issue: the board's right to subcontract some transportation to private, nonunion firms.

The school board went to U.S. District Court seeking a back-to-work order on the grounds that the strike was impeding court-ordered desegregation, but U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti declined to issue the restraining order. The board has not, however, invoked the Ohio law prohibiting strikes by public employees.

The strike by 450 drivers, which began on May 11, has forced the school system to spend nearly $250,000 on public-transportation passes for students and has severely strained the city's bus and rapid-transit system. Absenteeism remained high last week, with only about half of the 30,000 students who are normally transported in attendance.

A crack-down in disciplinary policy in the Dade County Public Schools is paying off, officials say.

A quarterly report of incidents of vandalism and possession of drugs and weapons, issued in April, shows a drop of more than 20 percent fromlast year's figures, according to Fred Young of the district's special investigative unit.

Arrests for robbery, assault, and trespassing dropped an average of 15 percent, Mr. Young said.

The new and tougher policies, which became effective two years ago, include penalties such as mandatory 10-day suspensions, Mr. Young said.

New York's City Council has acted to establish all-day kindergarten classes in the public schools, and one official who has promoted the idea says the proposal will cost the city little money.

Edward Sadowsky, who is chairman of the council's finance committee, last week expressed support for an education budget that would allocate an extra $22 million for the kindergarten program.

Charlotte Frank, executive director of the New York City school system's division of curriculum and instruction, said the city would receive about $20 million in extra state aid the year after the program is implemented.

Ms. Frank said the program would also attract families to the public-school system who might otherwise send children to private schools. She said many working parents enroll students in private schools when they learn the city does not run an all-day kindergarten.

Studies have shown that early education also reduces the cost of re-medial programs, Ms. Frank said.

But Mayor Edward I. Koch has expressed skepticism about the possibility of adopting the plan, which is part of a larger spending proposal, without a tax increase.

The mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., has been ordered to comply with an arbitration panel's ruling that awarded salary increases under new contracts for about 1,200 teachers and 92 school supervisors and administrators.

Superior Court Judge Edward F. Stodolink ruled last month against Mayor Leonard S. Paoletta, who had sought to have the state arbitration panel's decision on the two contracts nullified. Mr. Paoletta had challenged the terms of the new contract because they were decided by an arbitration panel, according to Richard Callahan, business manager for the school board.

The new three-year contract for the teachers will go into effect July 1. Mr. Callahan said the new rate will increase salaries by an average of 8.8 percent.

Vol. 02, Issue 37

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