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A proposal by the Andover and Lawrence school districts in Massachusetts to meld some students from their racially and economically unlike jurisdictions into a jointly run school moved a step closer to becoming a reality last month when the state legislature voted to pay most of the land-acquisition and construction costs.

Although officials from the two neighboring districts had hoped the state would pick up the entire cost of both, the director of the collaborative effort said last week that the legislature's decision to pay 90 percent of each moved the plan forward nonetheless.

As envisioned, the districts would build, staff, and run a 1,200-student elementary school that would be attended on a voluntary basis by students from both communities. (See Education Week, Nov. 11, 1988.)

Still pending, said Dennis A. Richards, the project's director, is legislation that would actually allow the collaboration to occur; a legal agreement between the districts specifying how the school would be administered, financed, and staffed; approval by the two local teachers' unions; and the backing of the Andover citizenry and the Lawrence city council.

The U.S. Education Department and an advocacy group for the homeless have agreed to a settlement of the group's lawsuit charging the department with delaying distribution of $5 million in federal funds to help the homeless gain access to education.

The National Coalition for the Homeless said Education Department officials had agreed to notify states immediately of the availability of funds under the two-year, $1-billion Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, passed by the Congress in July.

The coalition filed suit in December, charging that department officials did not intend to make the funds available until May. The department denied the charge. (See Education Week, Jan. 13, 1988.)

Under the settlement, states will have until Feb. 22 to submit applications, and the department "will process applications and distribute grant funds in as short a time as possible." The department also will provide the coalition with a list of states that have not applied, said Maria Foscarinis, a lawyer for the coalition.

Vol. 07, Issue 20

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