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Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez of New York City said last week that he was developing plans to lengthen the number of hours and days that children spend in the city's schools.

A spokesman for Mr. Fernandez said the chancellor hopes to pay for the expanded school day and year with funds generated through the Municipal Assistance Corporation, an agency that sells bends on behalf of the city.

Mayor David N. Dinkins has said he hopes to generate $1.1 billion by refinancing bends held by the M.A.C., and Mr. Fernandez has said he hopes to claim up to $250 million of that money to pay for educational initiatives.

The chancellor's spokesman said Mr. Fernandez's proposal calls for 100 of the city's 991 schools, most of them junior high schools, to develop plans to lengthen the school day and year to the equivalent of up to 235 days.

Under the plan, the additional time will be spent strictly on academic subjects.

The expanded hours, the spokesman said, could, among other benefits, make the schools more productive and increase graduation rates.

A California Boy Scout troop will lose its charter at the end of the month unless it disavows its plan to break with Boy Scouts of America policy in order to welcome homosexuals into its ranks.

The Boy Scouts western regional leadership informed San Jose's Troop No. 260 on Feb. 7 that it would renew the group's charter when it expires Feb. 29 if the adult sponsors of the troop agreed "not to seek to register known or avowed homosexuals" as Scouts or Scoutmasters, said Grant Robinson, the area director for the Boy Scouts' western region.

Local troops "are not flee unilaterally to ignore policies," Mr. Robinson said.

Boy Scout officials are awaiting a response from the troop's sponsors, who could not be reached for comment last week.

The troop notified Boy Scout officials Jan. 2 that, while it does not now have homosexual applicants for troop membership, it has decided to accept them if they appear, Mr. Robinson said.

"We'd like very much to have them participate" in scouting, Mr. Robinson said of the troop, which has 20 to 30 members.

If the charter is revoked, the troop would either have to disband or find new adult sponsors, Mr. Robinson said.

A substitute teacher in Irvington, N.J., has been arrested for allegedly performing voodoo rituals and threatening children in a classroom.

According to a complaint filed with local police by 7th-grade students at the Mount Vernon Avenue School, Monique Bazile on Jan. 29 waved a crucifix at the class, used profanity, threw powder around, tossed a chair across the room, and threatened to burn the students' houses down.

Several students and their parents registered the complaint the Monday after the incident. A few students also complained of itching after the occurrence, although school nurses could find nothing wrong with them.

Irvington Police have charged Ms. Bazile with endangering the welfare of children and making terroristic threats.

At a press conference last week, Irvington's superintendent, Edith Francis, called Ms. Bazile's behavior "absolutely unacceptable." Ms. Bazile was ordered to leave the school immediately and will no longer be called on to substitute, Ms. Francis said. The superintendent also noted that crisis counseling has been made available to the students.

Tennessee lawmakers last week approved an 11th-hour plan to keep Hancock County's financially strapped schools open.

County officials had announced plans to close schools last Friday as a result of a $305,000 revenue shortfall. The shortfall occurred when a $1.2-million deal to house prisoners from overcrowded jails in Washington, D.C., fell through and state funding was reduced by $220,000.

Legislators approved a plan to make a $560,000 emergency loan to the district. However, the district must relinquish control of its budgetary system to the state director of local finance and a committee appointed by the state education commissioner.

The plan also allows the state to lend money to any county in similar trouble through 1998.

The county's school beard was scheduled to meet late last week to consider the legislature's bailout proposal.

Vol. 11, Issue 22

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