Districts News Roundup

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The Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota will become an autonomous school district, the state board of education has decided.

The change will allow schools serving the base to continue receiving the maximum amount of federal impact aid for their 1,800 students.

The board agreed this month to create the district, following the legislature's approval of a law permitting the change.

Since the base was built in the 1950's, its students have been served by the Grand Forks school system, which operates an elementary school on the base but buses older students 16 miles to a high school in Grand Forks, Superintendent Mark S. Sanford6said last week.

Grand Forks qualified for the highest level of impact aid until 1987, when the number of students from the base threatened to dip below 20 percent of the district's total enrollment. That would have cost the district about $1 million of its $2.5 million a year in impact aid.

To head off that loss of funds, state officials worked out an agreement with the U.S. Education Department to make the base a special state school district for two years, until an autonomous district could be created.

The new district will contract with Grand Forks to continue teaching its students, Mr. Sanford said.

Officials of the Emerado district, adjacent to the base, have opposed the plan because they want the children of families living in a military-housing complex located off the base to attend their schools.

Two candidates backed by the United Teachers of Los Angeles have won run-off elections for the city's school board.

As a result, members supported by the teachers' union now hold a majority of the seven seats on the board.

Julie Korenstein, an incumbent, and Mark Slavkin, a newcomer, both of whom received campaign contributions from the union, won seats this month.

In the wake of a bitter strike last month, the utla now views four board members as being "prepared to listen," said Don Shrack, a spokesman for the union.

But Mr. Shrack noted that several candidates endorsed by the union in the past have not voted as its leaders would have liked once on the board.

"They don't line up as puppets behind utla and rubber-stamp everything utla does," he said.

The New York City school board can require union employees to complete financial-disclosure forms and submit to background checks, a state appeals court has ruled.

The board began examining employees' finances in 1984, in the wake of a scandal involving Schools Chancellor Anthony Alvarado, who resigned after reports that he took personal loans from board employees.

A group of unions representing school employees sued to block the requirements, arguing that such rules should be negotiated as part of the collective-bargaining process.

But the panel of judges declared this month that the "strong public interest in the prevention and detection of corruption" among government employees is more important than bargaining rights of union workers, explained John M. Crotty, associate counsel for the Public Employment Relations Board, which filed the original suit against the school board.

Mr. Crotty said the unions are planning an appeal to the state's highest court.

Colleges and universities in the Boston area have contributed more than $36 million in scholarships, grants, and services to the city's public schools in the past five years, according to a report by the Boston Higher Education Partnership.

Contributions made by the 23 colleges and universities in the partnership have included scholarships, enrichment programs, college and career counseling, tutoring, teacher training, literacy programs, and employment.

Boston University was the largest contributor, providing $4.2 million in support, of which $3.1 million was in scholarships. Other top contributors include the University of Massachusetts at Boston, $1.6 million; Northeastern University, $1.3 million; and Harvard University, $1 million.

A South Carolina rule banning the hiring of elderly school-bus drivers violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged in a lawsuit against a school district in the state.

Ronald A. Arrington, a lawyer with the e.e.o.c.'s regional office in Charlotte, N.C., said he filed suit this month on behalf of a 66-year-old man who said he was told two years ago by officials of the Anderson District 2 that they could offer him only short-term employment because a state regulation barred him from taking the wheel after he turned 65.

Clifford Nix, a transportation official with the state Education Department, said that the age restriction was rescinded in April.

But Mr. Arrington argued that there is "no evidence" that the regulation was ever abolished. Even if it was, he said, the federalcy would still seek back pay for those deprived of employment as a result of the rule.

Mr. Arrington added that similar suits may be filed against all 91 of the state's school districts because their hiring practices conformed to the state mandate.

The Minneapolis City Council has agreed to fund a summer-school program for 2,000 students in response to the cancellation of summer classes by the school board.

The board had cut its 9,000-student summer program in order to reduce teacher layoffs during the regular school year.

After criticizing the board for mismanaging its finances, the council voted last month to pay $296,000 for a special summer school to help students who failed district tests and high-school seniors who needed credits to graduate. The plan is part of a $1-million package that includes jobs and recreation for inner-city youths.

A Cleveland-area high-school principal has been unsuccessful in his efforts to prevent an alumni organization he claims is linked to gang-like activity from participating in a school awards ceremony.

Principal Hugh E. Burkett of Cleveland Heights High School attempted to prohibit Brothers and Sisters Inc. from presenting $100 scholarships to three members of its high-school affiliate at the ceremony because, he said last week, the group was not an official school organization and has "played an active role in fights, cases of intimidation, and hazing."

The school board overruled Mr. Burkett, however, allowing Brothers and Sisters to participate in the ceremony this month on the condition that the group promote scholarship, not violence, and work with school officials to erase its negative image.

Jimmie Hicks, chairman of Brothers and Sisters, said his organization's bad reputation is undeserved.

Four teenagers who vandalized a Mendota Heights, Minn., high school have been sentenced to serve between five months and a year in jail, pay restitution, and perform community service.

The youths caused an estimated $5 million in damage to Henry Sibley High School when they turned on fire hydrants and flooded the school, loosening asbestos insulation that must be removed before the school can reopen.

The vandals were sentenced this month after two district judges conducted an unusual community hearing to allow students, educators, and parents--all legally considered victims of the vandalism--to recommend suitable punishment.

Two Ohio school districts have gained final approval for an unusual plan that will adjust their boundaries in return for a $1.5-million payment to the district that stands to lose about 30 students.

The adjustment will accommodate families living in North Perry who wish to attend the Perry public schools but had been assigned to the nearby Madison schools.

Madison school officials had resisted the transfer because of the potential loss of state aid and property-tax revenues, but dropped their opposition after North Perry offered the money.

Vol. 08, Issue 39

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