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An attempt to place a binding referendum before Boston voters asking for a change in the makeup of the Boston School Committee has been defeated by Massachusetts lawmakers, whose approval of the measure was necessary to place it on next month's ballot. (See Education Week, Sept. 19, 1990.)

The Boston City Council, Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, and the Massachusetts board of education had approved the proposal, which would have replaced the current 13-member committee with a nine-member board of both elected and mayorally appointed members. It also would have given parents a greater role in selecting school principals.

The Boston Teachers Union objected to that provision, while several lawmakers said the measure had been drafted too hastily.

The New Jersey School Boards Association has agreed to strengthen its auditing procedures and reduce the size of its board of directors in response to charges by a state panel that the group wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on questionable expenses and investments.

In May, a state investigative panel called for the dismissal of the organization's director following a two-year probe of the alleged misuse of funds at the taxpayer-financed organization. The panel charged that Octavius T. Reid Jr. improperly used association money to finance an extravagant lifestyle and that he mismanaged the association's insurance pool. Mr. Reid, who later resigned, has denied all charges. (See Education Week, May 16, 1990.)

In response, the association formed a committee to make recommendations. This month, the association endorsed the committee's findings that it form an audit committee and prepare detailed monthly financial reports. In the past, the reports were issued quarterly and did not detail expenses.

The group also agreed to form an ethics committee and to reduce from 32 to an unspecified number the number of directors.

The board also filed suit in state court this month against Mr. Reid, charging that he had violated his resignation agreement with the association.

The board represents 616 school boards in the state, which pay dues to support the association's operations.

Six dairies will pay Alabama more than $3 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of fixing the price of milk sold to school districts statewide.

The dairies admitted no wrongdoing.

The lawsuit, filed last November in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, charged a total of eight dairies with dividing the state's districts among themselves and agreeing in advance which firm would enter the lowest bid for the milk contract with a given district. (See Education Week, Dec. 6, 1989.)

The alleged scheme inflated milk prices by one to two cents per half-pint carton, and the settlement money will flow directly to the districts, said John Crowder, a Mobile lawyer who helped prosecute the case for the state.

The firms that have settled are Barber Pure Milk Company and Baker and Sons Dairy Inc., both of Birmingham; Borden Inc. and Meadow Gold Dairies Inc., both of Columbus, Ohio; Kinnet Dairies Inc. of Columbus, Ga.; and Dairy Fresh Corporation of Hale County, Ala.

Two other firms--Cloverleaf Dairies Inc. of Dallas County, Ala., and Flav-O-Rich Dairy Inc. of Louisville, Ky.--have yet to settle, although they are expected to do so, Mr. Crowder said.

The Rochester Teachers Association, which recently rejected a three-year contract that would have tied teachers' pay to performance, will ask that the school district join the union in declaring an impasse in negotiations in order to resume talks on a new contract. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1990.)

If an impasse is declared, the state will send a mediator to Rochester to help the two sides agree on a new contract. Adam Urbanski, president of the rta, said he will press in negotiations to create a system of accountability that focuses on schools' performance as measured by student achievement.

Mr. Urbanski said he expected that the talks would center on creating a system of "shared accountability," using some of the suggestions made in a recent report by a joint union-school district task force that examined the issue.

Vol. 10, Issue 06

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