Private Schools

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The last surviving academy begun by the late Louisiana desegregation foe Judge Leander Perez closed last month due to dwindling enrollment.

The River Oaks Academy, in Belle Chase, La., was one of five private schools built in Plaquemines Parish at the height of the civil-rights movement in 1966.

The school's enrollment fell from 600 two years ago to 300 this year, forcing the school to shut its doors. Another school with similar origins, the Promised Land Academy in Buras, closed in June.

Mr. Perez, a staunch foe of integration, quickly built the private schools after federal courts ordered the desegregation of public schools. White students and teachers abandoned the Plaquemines schools, taking with them books and other supplies.

Parish school officials are considering plans to take over the academy to ease overcrowding at Belle Chase High School.

Another school established in the wake of school desegregation, Jefferson Preparatory School in Pine Bluff, Ark., has closed because of low enrollment.

The school was one of two built in the Pine Bluff area in 1971 as nearby school districts began desegregation. The Watson Chapel Academy closed in 1985.

The Jefferson school had enrolled as many as 400 students, but could not meet its minimum enrollment of 175 for next year. School officials cited difficult economic times in the area and a growing favorable reputation of the public schools as reasons for the low enrollment.

The Coca-Cola heir George W. Woodruff left nearly $15 million to the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun Gap, Ga., upon his death last year, nearly doubling the school's endowment and enabling it to renovate almost every building on its 1,200-acre campus.

Mr. Woodruff, who was 91, had donated more than $5 million to the school during his 30-year reign as chairman of its board of trustees, from 1940 to 1970.

The income from the Woodruff trust the first year will allow an increase in the school's budget from $2.75 million to $3.17 million, not including the $4.5- million renovation project. The school is raising teacher salaries and plans to increase financial aid, which currently assists a third of its 250 boarding and day students. The school has grades 8-12, and is adding the 7th grade this fall. Annual tuition is $7,400.

Students are required to work for a portion of their tuition regardless of family income, up to 300 hours a year, at a variety of on-campus jobs.

The school became nationally known in the 1970's as the home of the writing program begun by Eliot Wigginton Jr., whose students published Foxfire magazine and several best-selling books that chronicle the rural area's history and crafts. Mr. Wigginton, a former Georgia Teacher of the Year, moved the program to the Rabun Gap public schools in 1978.

An African Methodist Episcopal minister has founded the nation's first K-12 AME school, in a poor and mostly black section of Savannah, Ga.

The Rev. Dan Stephenson, founder of the Talbot Academy, last month dedicated a restored Victorian home for the 30-student school on the edge of the city's historic district. The West Bolton Community Group, a crime-watch organization, helped the school get financing to buy and repair the house.

There are two other AME schools in the country, but neither is K-12.

In a sudden turnaround, teachers in the Roman Catholic high schools of Philadelphia in July voted 471-264 to accept a three-year contract, just three weeks after rejecting a nearly identical contract by 14 votes.

Rita Schwartz, president of Local 1776 of the National Association of Catholic School Teachers, said that in an additional negotiating session, archdiocesan officials agreed to establish a committee on teaching positions and addressed teachers' concerns about the health of the schools' pension plan.

The contract, which takes effect in September, gives each lay high-school teacher bonuses of $1,000 twice annually.

The Council for American Private Education's nine-month-old Private School Facilitator Project has assisted about 100 private schools in adopting 17 programs through the National Diffusion Network.

The programs are mainly demonstrations sponsored by CAPE to introduce the curriculum network in private schools. The project has also promoted the diffusion of two courses developed by private schools: "Learning About Parenting,'' which began at the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, and a course developed by Gonzaga College High School in Washington that combines community service with an academic course in social justice.

A. Emerson Johnson 3rd, former president of the Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pa., was named president of the Educational Records Bureau in Wellesley, Mass., replacing R. Bruce McGill, who retired after 16 years as president.

Mr. McGill will continue to work as a consultant to the testing service. The firm is developing an independent-school entrance examination that it expects to be available by July 1989.

Arthur W. White, headmaster of The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., was elected to the board of trustees of the ERB. --KG

Vol. 07, Issue 39 Extra Edition

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