Districts News Roundup

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Copyright 1987 The department employs 90 workers, who account for less than 2 percent of all school-system employees eligible for overtime. But in the last school year alone, grounds workers collected almost 38 percent of the overtime wages paid by the system, according to school records.

The investigation grew from complaints filed through an employees' union by grounds workers who were laid off this year. The complaints also included charges that the grounds department uses favoritism in assigning overtime tasks.

In a new twist on the recent series of privately financed programs aimed at boosting student achievement, a corporate and civic forum in Cleveland has agreed to provide college scholarships for all students of the Cleveland Public Schools based on the grades they earn.

Beginning in January, students in grades 7-12 will accumulate $40 for each A, $20 for each B, and $10 for each C in escrow accounts that can be used only for postsecondary education. Straight-A students could earn $4,800 by the time they graduate from high school.

In addition, businesses participating in the Cleveland Initiative for Education have agreed to give qualified graduates first priority in hiring for entry-level jobs. An existing program that provides job training will be expanded to all of the district's high schools.

A newly created and funded group of civic advocates will also help students identify and seek help from community-support programs ranging from remedial reading to pregnancy counseling.

Members of the Greater Cleveland Roundtable have pledged $3 million a year over the next five years to support the program. In turn, Superintendent of Schools Alfred D. Tutela, who proposed the idea, has pledged to work to improve the quality of education for all students and to reduce the district's 50 percent dropout rate.

An Improvement in 8th-grade reading scores should lead to a continuing reduction in the number of students dropping out of the Chicago Public, but it is not likely to because too many students remain "dismally ill-prepared" for high-school work, a new report by an education watchdog group has charged.

The Chicago Panel on Public School Policy and Finance predicted in its report, "Bending the Twig, The Elementary Years and Dropout Rates in Chicago," that the dropout rate for the class of 1990 will fall to 38 percent, down from 45 percent for the class of 1985.

The report based the projection on its finding that the proportion of the district's 8th-grade students reading below grade level fell from 47 percent in 1978 to 34 percent in 1986. But further improvements are unlikely, said Fred Hess, the panel's executive director, because "since 1983 there has been virtually no change in test scores for any of the eight elementary grades."

A pilot Montessori program for 4- and 5-year-olds begins this month in Dade County, Florida's largest school district. The first use of the Montessori method in the district, the federally supported magnet program is open to parents of the 97 percent black Pine Villa Elementary School.

The "First Break" program in Los Angeles exceeded its anticipated goal of 12,000 jobs for area youths this summer. The 12,789 jobs provided set a record for the 15-year-old program.

Sponsored by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Unified School District, "First Break" is one of the nation's largest private-sector job programs for teen-agers. Among the participating companies are Arthur Andersen, McDonald's, Exxon, Bank of America, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Sears, and J.C. Penney.

A Charleston, W.Va., school district has terminated its partnership with a nonunion coal company in the wake of opposition to the school-business venture from the United Mine Workers. The Boone County Board of Education ended the partnership between Sherman High School and Elk Run Coal Co. after union members complained about the school's involvement with a nonunion company. The company had provided T-shirts with the school logo to students with perfect attendance.

Between 35 percent and 40 percent of Philadelphia public-school students who entered the 9th grade in 1984 will fail to graduate, according to researchers conducting the district's most comprehensive dropout study to date.

The researchers--who will complete the study next year--are tracking the 1984 freshmen from the time they entered school until the time they leave, according to Edward Penry, the system's director of administrative research.

Citing gaps between the achievement rates of white and minority students and the negative impact of a fragmented leadership, the Texas Education Agency has lowered the accreditation rating of the Houston Independent School District, the state's largest.

Terri Anderson, a spokesman for the tea, said that, although the district's "accredited advised" rating does not place its share of state education funds in jeopardy, the district has been directed to work to meet the agency's standards by next spring, when its rating will be reviewed.

The Sequoia Union High School District's policy of dropping students from a class after more than 10 unexcused absences is discriminatory, lawyers who have filed a class action against the district have argued.

David Neely, a lawyer with the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, which filed the suit in federal district court, said the district's policy had resulted in three times as many black students as white students being dropped from classes.

Mr. Neely said the policy, which also bars students who are enrolled in fewer than four classes in any semester from attending school, had resulted in 2,000 students being dropped from classes since 1982.

Six middle-school students have alleged in a suit against their principal and other school and district officials in Richmond, Va., that they have been subjected to unreasonable searches and that their free-speech rights have been violated.

The suit maintains that the principal, Mayor Roy West, several times ordered teachers at the Albert Hall Middle School over the intercom system to perform searches for felt-tip markers, electronic goods, and marijuana, said Chan Kendrick, director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of the students.

Vol. 07, Issue 01

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