District News Roundup
Disabled students graduating from New York City public schools would be guaranteed either a job or enrollment in a post-secondary education program under a far-reaching special-education plan presented to the city's board of education this month.
"Most people get their first jobs as a consequence of contacts made through family, friends, and other intermediaries," said David W. Hornbeck, the consultant who drafted the proposal. "Those with handicaps need even more of that kind of assistance."
The proposal is part of a bold and comprehensive plan crafted by Mr. Hornbeck, a former state school superintendent in Maryland, and an associate, Sue Lehman, to overhaul the school system's long-troubled special-education program. The system has been under a federal court order since the 1970's to eliminate a backlog of children awaiting special-education services.
The report also calls on schools to provide a high-support reading program, such as "Reading Recovery," for all disabled children through the 3rd grade and recommends the establishment of school-level teams to intervene early when children are having trouble in school and provide them with extra help in their regular classrooms. The purpose of the teams is to avoid placing children in costly special-education program and giving them potentially stigmatizing labels.
The consultants also said schools that do a good job of serving disabled students should be exempted from state and federal regulations restricting the expenditure of special-education funds.
"The question posed to school staff must shift from, 'Did you do what they told you to do?' to 'Did it work?"' the report stated.
The plan, parts of which may initially be costly, comes at a time when the school system faces more than $1.5 billion in budget cuts. Some of the reading programs recommended in the report, for example, may cost an extra $800 to $1,000 a year per student.
City school-board members have not indicated whether they plan to act on the report. A spokesman for the district said last week that the board may choose to adopt some of the plan's less costly features.
Employees of the Averill Park Central School District near Albany, N.Y., have agreed to give back portions of pay raises negotiated l year in order to save some district programs from budget cuts.
The superintendent and various bargaining units representing management, faculty, and support staff have agreed to "givebacks" ranging from 10 percent to 35 percent of expected pay increases for the sake of keeping the district from adding to class sizes or cutting certain programs.
In all, the givebacks are expected to save the district $180,000 to help cope with an expected loss of $600,000 in state aid, district officials said.
Officials of teachers unions in the state said the givebacks are unusual and that they have been discouraging the employees of other districts in the state from offering similar concessions.
A 15-year-old who had been watching a championship lacrosse game at a Washington, D.C., school was killed earlier this month when the tree he was standing under was struck by lightning.
Noah Eig, a 9th grader at the Landon School in Bethesda, Md., was killed instantly as he and other spectators sought shelter under a 50-foot tree at St. Albans School, school officials said.
The varsity game between St. Albans and Landon had been suspended about 10 minutes earlier because of lightning in the area, said Pat Griffin, a St. Albans coach.
Ten others in the estimated crowd ofwere injured, including several Landon and St. Albans students and parents, officials at the schools said. Some of the injured remained hospitalized last week.
Landon School was closed May 20 to honor Noah's memory.
The two teams were playing for the lacrosse championship in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference, a league of private schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, said John Fisher, a Landon teacher and spokesman for the school.
Federal authorities last week were investigating the cause of a school-bus accident in Cornelius, N.C., that left 3 children dead and 12 injured.
The bus was carrying about 20 students home from Alexander Junior High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District when it collided with a dump truck and then wrapped around a tree.
About 200 Alexander students were provided counseling after the accident, which is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as local authorities, a district spokesman said.
The Austin (Tex.) Independent School District should pay bilingual teachers stipends that were promised in 1989 contracts but later cut for budgetary reasons, a state district-court judge has ruled.
Several bilingual teachers had sued the district after the $1,500 stipends promised them in 1989 contracts were eliminated about a month after the July 1 contract deadline.
Lawyers for the teachers asserted that their clients had accepted their jobs because of the stipends.
Mayor David N. Dinkins of New York City has proposed a budget that would eliminate a school-health program that provided free medical exams to 45,000 children last year.
Through the school system, the city's department of health provides free services to children, including new-admissions examinations, vision and health screenings, team sports examinations, and immunizations during disease outbreaks.
The cuts would eliminate about 174 jobs and would save the city $7.5 million, a document released by the city council said.
Due to budget problems, the health department has also decided not to enforce a city mandate that all children entering school have a complete physical examination, including the required screenings for lead, tuberculosis, and immunizations.
The city council will not approve a final budget until next month.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is negotiating with the California Museum of Science and Industry to open an elementary school on the museum's grounds that would serve children from the surrounding neighborhood.
District officials stress that the school--which would also serve as a teacher-training center and curriculum-development site for the University of Southern California--could not become a reality until at least the middle of the decade.
"A site has been identified at the area," said Pat Spencer, a spokesman for the district, but the project is "still very much at the discussion stage."
If the project proceeds as planned, the new school would occupy the upper floor of an as-yet-unbuilt two-story building at the museum's Exposition Park site.
District officials also stressed that the school would serve as a normal elementary school, making the museum's resources accessible to the local community, and not as a magnet school.
Vol. 10, Issue 36