District News Roundup

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The Los Angeles board of education has approved an $858,000 districtwide after-school tutoring program for junior- and senior-high-school students.

The Tutorial Assistance Program, developed by the district's office of secondary instruction, is designed to serve at least 10 percent of each school's enrollment. It will provide a minimum of one hour of tutoring a week to help students improve their grades and pass the basic-skills tests required to graduate.

According to district officials, teachers, teachers' assistants, and other students will act as tutors. Students may volunteer for tutoring or may be suggested by teachers.

The tutoring will include subject-area assistance provided by one or more teachers in each subject; daily seminars focusing on a particular subject; a tutoring center for assigned and walk-in students; and thrice-weekly assistance in how to prepare for competency testing.

The funds allocated by the board will underwrite the cost of the teachers and other tutors. Tutors who are not teachers will be required to attend one or more training sessions to learn how to help students develop problem-solving skills.

Money appropriated for educational materials will be used to remedy the most serious asbestos problems in Baltimore City Schools, Mayor William Schaefer has announced.

A recently completed survey required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that 129 of the city's 193 schools have a potential asbestos problem.

According to Judson Porter, the school system's chief financial officer, the mayor decided to deal promptly with problems in schools "where the most dangerous conditions might exist."

It is estimated, Mr. Porter said, that $3 million will be needed to remedy the most serious problems in 6 to 10 schools. The city, he said, would need as much as $50 million and up to 10 years, to remedy the problems in all the schools.

Because the fiscal year is already underway, "part of the [$3 million] will come from holding noninstructional positions vacant as they become vacant and part of it will come from reserving yet-to-be committed funds in other areas," Mr. Porter said.

"It's not all coming from instructional materials and supplies, but a significant amount will," he added.

The financial officer criticized the epa for requiring inspection and notification of asbestos problems without providing the funds necessary to remedy the problems.

"It would be nice," he said, "for the federal government to own up to the responsibility from beginning to end."

If Maryland's General Assembly approves a plan proposed by the Baltimore City School Board, children could enter 13 district schools in a pre-elementary program at age 4, proceed to the 1st grade at age 5, and graduate at age 16.

Robert L. Walker, president of the school board, called the plan "a bold step." The eventual implementation of the concept, which was initiated by Superintendent Alice Pinderhughes, could "benefit not only the school system but society," Mr. Walker said.

Charlene Cooper Boston, the chairman of the elementary-school task force appointed to study the plan, said early academic experience will result in higher test scores, more students at grade level, fewer dropouts, fewer students in special-education classes, and fewer teen-age pregnancies.

The board agreed to the project only after Ms. Pinderhughes assured members that the plan would cost no additional money. Expanding the program systemwide, however, would cost the district about $1.5 million initially and $6.6 million to maintain.

Since state law requires children to start school by age 6, enrollment of 4-year-olds would be voluntary. Students would first participate in a half-day pre-elementary program and, after meeting certain educational requirements, would proceed to a modified kindergarten program, which would be called 1st grade.

A Providence, R.I., woman who has been charged in connection with a fatal stabbing in 1980 recently worked for several months as a substitute part-time teacher's aide in a city school because police failed to identify her name in a routine check.

According to school officials, Lucille Sheppard, 46, was hired by the Providence School Department last March when she applied for the substitute position in one of the city's special-education centers.

Joseph Almagno, deputy superintendent for the Providence Public Schools, said Ms. Sheppard's name was submitted along with with several others to the local police department for a routine check. Ms. Sheppard's name was returned with no indication that she had a record, he said.

The woman was subsequently hired. However, school officials learned last month that she was a fugitive from justice who had failed to appear at an arraignment on a manslaughter charge stemming from the stabbing death of a male friend of hers.

The case came to light in October during an eight-state sweep of thousands of fugitives, when Ms. Sheppard was arrested once again, Mr. Almagno said. After being arraigned and released on personal recognizance, she returned to the school without telling officials about the arrest.

Mr. Almagno said he did not know about the woman's arrest until three weeks ago, when the police sweep became public. At that time, he said, she was immediately suspended.

Vol. 04, Issue 15

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