Districts News Roundup

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The Conneaut, Ohio, school board has gone to court to contest a state-ordered tax reimbursement for the U.S. Steel Corporation that could cost the district $1 million in principal payments and interest over the next five years.

According to Donald Horwood, superintendent of the Conneaut Area City Schools, the state tax commissioner ordered Ashtabula County to return $1.1 million to U.S. Steel in July 1983 after finding that the company had overpaid that amount in property taxes on iron ore stored in Conneaut in 1981 and 1982.

The county at first refused to pay, and the company filed suit last year to enforce the commission's order. This month, county officials agreed to a five-year repayment plan without the consent of district officials, even though three-quarters of the repayment would come from district funds, Mr. Horwood said.

The district has filed a motion in state supreme court asking for the right to intervene in the suit. A ruling is expected sometime next month, Mr. Horwood said.

He said the district would be willing to return the funds--$175,000 in each of the next five years out of an annual district budget of about $6 million--if it could see proof that the company indeed paid more taxes than it should have. "What it comes down to is we need more verification of the information U.S. Steel submitted to the tax commissioner," he said.

The directors of a voluntary desegregation program in Springfield, Mass., have launched a community-support drive in the wake of a survey revealing that teachers in suburban districts do not want more black children bused to their schools.

The survey, conducted by the "Metropolitan Cooperation," or metco, program, found that almost all teachers favored the concept of equal educational opportunity, but opposed expansion of metco, said John F. Howell, the program's Springfield director.

Founded in 1968, metco places black students from Springfield and Boston in suburban schools. The state pays the cost of tuition and transportation but has level-funded the project in recent years, reducing the funds available to promote it, Mr. Howell said.

"There's some concern that what has happened is that the program has lost support," Mr. Howell said.

But Carl Tripp, metco coordinator for the Longmeadow schools, which accept about one-third of the Springfield students, said the survey does not necessarily indicate that teachers oppose the program. Longmeadow schools are overcrowded, he said, and teachers "don't want new kids of any kind. That's why they answered the questions the way they did."

Last year, metco placed about 160 Springfield students in four suburban school districts, including Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Southwick, and Hampden. The program is voluntary for parents and for the participating districts.

Mayor William Donald Schaefer of Baltimore plans to appoint a committee to determine whether complaints about a shortage of textbooks and supplies in the city's public schools are valid.

Some school officials have complained this fall that they do not have nearly enough books for the district's 110,000 students, according to news reports. Teachers say that students are having to share books in classes and to write out their homework assignments because there are not enough books for each student to take one home. They also charge that the textbooks are in many instances outdated.

Paper, ditto fluid, pencils, and other supplies are also said to be scarce.

"The Mayor really wants to find out if there is a shortage," said Lester McCrea, Mr. Schaefer's education liaison. "And if there is a shortage, the Mayor is going to find some other sources than the education budget to fund what we need."

Among the issues the panel may address, Mr. McCrea said, are whether textbooks match course curricula; panel members may also make visits to school sites to inventory supplies.

The group, to be named in the next two weeks and to include community representatives, parents, and others interested in education, will report its findings to the Mayor in six to eight weeks.

A teen-ager fired six rounds of bird shot into a football homecoming crowd at a high school in Detroit this month, wounding six students.

The youth, who fired a shotgun into a group of students who were standing near the gate of the football field at Murray Wright High School, fled from the scene in a car, according to John Leavens, public-information officer for the Detroit Police Department. No arrest has been made, he said, but the investigation is continuing.

None of the students were seriously wounded, according to Mr. Leavens; as of last week, five of the six were out of the hospital, according to a spokesman at the high school.

The Houston Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, has filed suit in state court seeking a court order that would force the Houston Independent School District to conduct an official hearing of the teachers' complaint that the paperwork they are required to do violates the state's education-reform law.

According to Gayle Fallon, president of the 300-member hft, the teachers filed a grievance with school officials about the paperwork last year, but the administration has refused to conduct a hearing. State law requires the teachers to exhaust administrative remedies for their complaint before it can be heard at any other level.

District officials have chosen to "obstruct and delay" rather than hear the teachers' complaint, Ms. Fallon charged.

But Houston school officials are not trying to delay the complaint process, Rosalind Young, a spokesman for the district, said last week. The administration did not hold a hearing because the teachers had not followed proper procedure in bringing their grievance, Ms. Young said.

According to Ms. Young, the administration has worked with the teachers to reduce paperwork in the district and has a goal to reduce paperwork by 50 percent before the end of this school year.

The state's 1984 education-reform bill included a provision requiring a reduction in teachers' paperwork. But "the paperwork problem is growing worse rather than better" in Houston, Ms. Fallon said.

Students at an elementary school in Nineveh, Ind., 30 miles south of Indianapolis, are watching eagerly as their building is transformed into a 1950's high school.

Although the building is scheduled to be closed at the end of this school year, its new look will be immortalized as the set of "Hoosiers," a movie starring Gene Hackman, which will be filmed there this month.

Directed by an Indiana native, David Anspaugh, "Hoosiers" is a story based on fact about how a tiny school's basketball team defeated the traditional powerhouses to become the state champion. Mr. Hackman plays the coach.

The Nineveh school, to be used for classroom scenes and exterior shots, was chosen because it fit the feel and style of the movie, according to a designer on the set.

The movie's street scenes will be shot in another Indiana town because Nineveh's downtown is too4small; a third town will provide the gymnasium for game scenes.

A Nineveh school official said classes would not be disrupted because students will be having their fall break. The school's 172 students in grades K-4 have enjoyed watching preparations for the filming, he added. They will begin attending a new elementary school in nearby Trafalgar next fall.

A former school-district official in Chicago who later served as a high-school principal in the city has been charged with molesting four boys and one girl over a two-year period.

James G. Moffat, 56, surrendered to police Oct. 9, a day after he was indicted by a Cook County grand jury. The five indictments handed down by the grand jury included 27 counts of official misconduct and 10 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, said Lisa Howard, a spokesman for the Cook County state attorney's office.

The indictment resulted after an eight-month investigation, she said.

Mr. Moffat was once a deputy superintendent for Chicago schools. He was named principal of the Kel-vyn Park High School, located on the city's Northwest side, in 1980. He has been on leave with pay from the school system since April.

The board of education is seeking his dismissal, and a hearing will be held on the matter in December, a spokesman said.

Vol. 05, Issue 09

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