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The American Honda Education Corporation has reached a "conceptual" agreement with the Colorado State Land Board for a 640-acre site near Estes Park for its proposed boarding school.

The American Honda Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese automaker, established the education unit last year to develop innovative, tuition-free boarding schools for at-risk youths.

The company initially sought to build the school near Gold Lake in Boulder County, but it ran into intense opposition from environmentalists. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991.)

The agreement for the Estes Park site is subject to a public hearing and a fair land appraisal, said Max Vezzani, the staff director of the state land board. Honda would trade other real-estate parcels with the land board for the school site.

The boarding school would take at-risk students nominated by nearby school districts, with enrollment growing to about 120 students within a few years. The school would also have a teacher-education center to serve students from nearby universities.

Honda envisions replicating the project in other communities in the future.

Sixty-four Massachusetts school districts have applied to the state to be reimbursed for some of the aid they lost as a result of the state's school-choice law.

Districts that lost aid because students transferred to schools in other districts under the choice plan are eligible for a 50 percent refund. Those that lost at least 2 percent of their total school budgets are eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement.

In December, Gov. William F. Weld signed legislation appropriating $2.7 million in relief to districts after educators and some lawmakers decried what they described as crippling financial penalties against the sending districts. (See Education Week, Jan. 8, 1992.)

Topping the list is Brockton, which is seeking $700,172 of the $933,563 in tuition it paid to other districts. Brockton has also been designated as one of the most financially distressed school systems in the state.

Following is Gloucester, which has applied for $307,593 of the $410,124 it lost. Also seeking six-figure reimbursements are Maynard and Hopkinton. Maria Rodriguez, a spokesman for the executive office of education, said reimbursement decisions should be completed by the end of the month.

The Winona (Minn.) Education Association has threatened to file a grievance if the Winona school board goes ahead with plans to approve establishment of the nation's first "charter school."

The school board is expected to ratify a contract with Bluffview Montesson School within the next few months. Under the charter arrangement, the school would relinquish its private-school status and receive $3,050 per student in state aid. (See Education Week, Nov. 27, 1991 .)

The union's president, Marc Houdek, has written a letter to Winona's superintendent and school-board chairman, charging that the agreement between the district and the Bluffview school may violate language in the W.E.A.'S master contract that prevents the district from subcontracting with teachers not affiliated with the union. If the union goes ahead with the threatened grievance, the issue could end up in arbitration.

Mr. Houdek said the union has "deep reservations" about the law authorizing charter schools, passed last May by the Minnesota legislature. "It's potentially going to siphon many, many dollars out of public schools," he argued.

The law allows up to eight new or existing public or private schools to become charter schools. Last November, the Winona school board voted to make Bluffview Montessori School, which has about 70 students, the first such school.

A five-member panel of the Texas State Board of Education has given final approval to more than $20 million in new, error-ridden U.S. history textbooks.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Textbooks voted to approve the contracts for the nine history texts for grades 8 through 12 even after it received a list of more than 100 new gaffes identified in the books by a pair of conservative textbook critics.

Last month, the board conditionally approved the texts while requiring that thousands of errors be corrected by the publishers in time for the books to be introduced into the classroom next fall. (See Education Week, Jan. 22, 1992.)

The board also assessed a total of $356,300 in fines against the publishers-Holt, Rinehart and Winston; Houghton Mifflin; Prentice-Hall; and Scott, Foresman and Company--believed to be the first such penalties assessed by a state against a publisher. In addition, the panel decided that each additional error discovered would result in a tripling of the fines, which are to be paid in the form of books.

The publishers must also supply a list of newly discovered errors each semester and, in some cases, a printed supplement with corrections to the texts.

The panel delayed until next month a vote on whether to adopt a text published by the Glencoe Division of Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill. The company had earlier withdrawn the text from consideration, saying it could not meet the board's Jan. 10 deadline for making corrections. The board then extended the deadline.

Vol. 11, Issue 22

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