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The Waterbury (Conn.) Board of Education has proposed to increase involuntary busing for racial balance to satisfy state officials who previously had insisted the district ease segregation by building a new school. (See Education Week, Nov. 20, 1991 .)

A plan announced by the board this month calls for the 7,400-student district to bus an additional 140 students to help racially balance its schools, according to Guy N. DiBiasio, the district's superintendent.

In all, about 7 percent of the district's students will be transferred to other schools to comply with state orders that it be racially balanced by Sept. 1, Mr. DiBiasio said.

The school board had proposed building a new school to ease segregation, but city officials had refused to fund the project.

When the state took the city to court over the issue last year, a superior-court judge ruled that the city could not be forced to build a new school, but that the district still had to come up with a desegregation plan.

A group of parents in Philadelphia has filed suit charging that the school district's condom-distribution policy is illegal and would cause "irreparable harm."

The advocacy group Parents United for Better Schools, together with parents of seven high-school students, filed the suit in common-pleas court last week. The parents are seeking a permanent injunction against the program, which began in three city high schools in December.

The suit contends that the state requires parents to give permission for their children to receive health services in schools. Under Philadelphia's policy, students may receive condoms unless their parents specifically exempt them from the program in writing.

The suit also charges that the policy "endangers the welfare of minors" by leading to increased sexual activity among students. School officials had no comment.

Philadelphia's year-old school-business collaboration has received its first "report card" from the coalition of businesses that sponsored it, and it won high marks in four of six target areas.

The business group lauded the district's progress in improving standardized-test scores, promotion rates, high-school credit accumulation, and student-attendance rates.

On the remaining two performance indicators, teacher attendance remained stable at 93.8 percent and students' mathematical-computation scores dropped slightly.

The report card was the first annual evaluation in a five-year collaborative improvement plan developed last year by the school district and the Committee to Support the Philadelphia Public Schools. (See Education Week, Jan. 16, 1991.) By 1995, school administrators have pledged to meet six performance targets, while area business leaders have promised to secure an additional $86 million in state funding and to create more jobs for high-school graduates.

A year ago, the pact was praised as one of the most comprehensive in the nation.

Although the improvements on national exams represented only 10 percent of the gains stipulated in the five-year objectives, increases in the other indicators ranged from 24 percent to 43 percent of the 1995 goals.

So far, businesses have promised 370 jobs, and hired 130 graduates. Employers would need to extend 400 offers annually to meet their goal of 2,000 new positions by 1995.

Calling the results "a good running start," the committee's chairman, Terrence A. Larsen, attributed the gains to the implementation of school-based management in district schools, the project's main reform strategy.

Vol. 11, Issue 18, Page 3

Published in Print: January 22, 1992, as News Updates
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