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The Georgia state school board has reversed its policy that prohibited schools from using state money to buy textbooks and other instructional materials that are not included on a state-approved list.

The decision earlier this month came after state lawmakers, state Superintendent Linda Schrenko, and local districts put increasing pressure on board members.

Although the ban on using state money for unapproved materials has been an issue in Georgia for years, it came to a head this school year when a series of controversial mathematics texts published by John Saxon was rejected. (See Education Week, Jan. 25, 1995.)

The policy still calls for the state to compile a recommended book list, but districts may ignore it.

Several bills pending in the legislature, however, could render the new regulation moot. The proposed measures would require that either five districts or 20 educators request materials before state funds could be used to buy them.

Boston Superintendent To Leave

Weeks of speculation ended last week with the announcement that the contract of Boston's superintendent of schools will not be renewed.

Lois Harrison-Jones has been under fire for what critics see as her poor management skills and the slow pace of school reform. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1995.)

The city's school committee announced late last week that her four-year contract would not extend beyond its scheduled expiration on June 30.

Ms. Harrison-Jones told the committee she would not contest its decision

The superintendent said in a statement that she "remains committed to quality education for all children, but would consider it impossible to be effective without the full support of the school committee and the mayor."

Fifth Time Is the Charm

Persistence has finally paid off for the Seattle public schools.

The district this month won approval of a $330 million school-construction measure, earlier versions of which city voters had rejected four times over the past two years. (See Education Week, Jan. 25, 1995.)

Culture Clash

Residents of a small Maryland town have voted against annexing land that eventually would have become home to a private academy funded by the Saudi Arabian government.

Poolesville, Md., residents and officials had quarreled over the issue for months. (See Education Week, Nov. 30, 1994.)

On Feb. 11, voters rejected the proposal to annex the land, some of which was slated for relocation of the Northern Va.-based Islamic Saudi Academy. School officials are continuing with their building plans, but will have to abide by stricter county regulations.

Shattered 'Dreams'

"Hoop Dreams," the acclaimed documentary about two Chicago high school athletes, was largely overlooked in the Academy Award nominations announced last week. Critics hailed the film as one of the year's best, and its producers waged a media campaign to make it the first documentary ever nominated for best picture. (See Education Week, Feb. 15, 1995.)

"Hoop Dreams," however, received only one Oscar nomination, for film editing.

Also last week, the film's producers and St. Joseph High School settled a lawsuit by the school that challenged the way it was depicted in the film. The settlement establishes scholarship funds to benefit minority students at St. Joseph and at Chicago's Marshall High School.

An Easier Pill To Swallow

Minneapolis officials have received good news from the state: The district will only have to pay about $69,000 of a $6.8 million fine for failing to meet the state's pay-equity law.

The law is designed to close the wage gap for men and women in similar public-sector jobs. (See Education Week, Jan. 11, 1995.)

Vol. 14, Issue 22

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