Cortines Says N.Y.C. Schools Will Offer Televised Courses

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New York City schools may soon offer students a chance to learn at home through television.

"If there's a way to transform the television set from a 'boob tube' into an effective and engaging educational tool, I want to explore it," Schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines told a group of parents this month. He said he was seeking ways to use television to enhance opportunities to learn in a time of expanding enrollment and shrinking budgets.

By the beginning of the new school year, the city's schools will offer selected courses on television that can be taken at home for credit, Mr. Cortines said.

He acknowledged that the idea was still in the planning stages, and said he was working with teachers and technology professionals to produce an effective program.

"We need to recognize the pressures being brought on us by scarce resources--not as an excuse for doing less, but as an impetus for doing more in different ways," Mr. Cortines said.

Strong Incentives: The Minneapolis schools received a $200,000 windfall from the state this month for hitting some high notes at the opening of the school year.

The state legislature set aside about $800,000 to reward districts for setting performance standards and meeting certain goals. Minneapolis was one of several school systems that were rewarded for meeting those goals in the first quarter of the school year.

School officials said they likely will plow the money into their campaign to improve instruction and student achievement. That is the top priority for Public Strategies Group Inc., the for-profit firm that has managed the district for the past year.

Clearing the Air: A putrid smell that has plagued students at a Virginia elementary school since the winter holiday has raised concerns among parents about the health of their children.

The stench at Brock Elementary School in Spotsylvania County first appeared early last month, when five cafeteria workers went to a hospital complaining of breathing troubles.

School officials replaced damaged drain~age pipes underneath the school cafeteria, which they thought caused the "rotten-egg stink." Parents thought the problem had been eliminated. But several students at the 650-student school have complained recently of dizziness and eye irritation.

Assistant Superintendent James Meyer of the Spotsylvania County school district assured parents that the smell does not pose a health risk to students or staff members.

But he acknowledged that "there is a presence of an odor and we have to get rid of that." He said a local laboratory would test the ventilation systems and check for mildew and mold in the next few weeks.

Strikes Settled: Teachers in two Massachusetts towns who went on strike earlier this month returned to work last week.

Though teacher strikes in Massachusetts are illegal, nearly 200 teachers from Belmont and 700 teachers from Holyoke walked out to protest their new contracts.

In the 3,300-student Belmont district, just outside Bos~ton, teachers went on strike Jan. 6 and did not return to school until Jan. 18, despite a court-imposed fine of $10,000 a day for the last days of the strike.

The Belmont Education Association was seeking a 10 percent salary increase over three years. Although the strike was settled last week, union officials were not allowed to discuss the settlement for seven days.

Teachers in the 7,000-student Holyoke district returned to work on Jan. 17, settling for a 3 percent increase for each of the next two years in addition to a 2.5 percent increase for top-scale teachers.

Vol. 14, Issue 18

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