District News Roundup

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New York State's education department has proposed a takeover of a school district on Long Island after it found poor management, high teacher absenteeism, and poorly maintained classrooms at one school.

A takeover of the 3,000-student Roosevelt district, which would require a change in state law, would be the first in the state.

The department targeted the district following inspections of management and facilities failures at the 1,000-student Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School there.

At least one state lawmaker has introduced a bill to allow the state to take control of districts from locally elected school boards.

Seattle Superintendent Search: The Seattle school board has narrowed its search for a new superintendent for the 46,000-student district.

The three finalists are: Superintendent Curman L. Gaines of St. Paul; Superintendent James S. Parsley of Vancouver, Wash.; and John H. Stanford, the manager of county government in Fulton County, Ga.

The board is expected to decide later this month. The new schools chief is expected to take over when Superintendent William Kendrick's contract expires early next year.

Spending Settlement: The Prince George's County, Md., school system has dropped its lawsuit against the county after the county council agreed to restore millions of dollars in funding for public schools.

Under the compromise spending plan, County Executive Wayne K. Curry agreed last month to add $9 million to the school district's budget next year. The agreement also allows the school board to transfer $6 million in savings to next year's education budget.

The district had sued in state court after the county unveiled its original budget plan. That plan, school officials said, fell $15 million short of state requirements that counties fund the public schools at a level at least equal to that of the previous year.

Student's Speech Allowed: Tricia Ex~strom had many people she wanted to thank during her speech as high school valedictorian, but most of all the Hawaii senior wanted to thank God. It took the approval of the state attorney general's office to allow her to do so.

The principal of Kailua High School, Mary Murakami, pointed out that state law prohibits activities serving a religious purpose during graduation ceremonies, and considered deleting the reference. Not being satisfied with that response, Ms. Exstrom appealed to the attorney general's office. Officials there sat down with her and the principal to work out a compromise.

"The attorney general was able to find a proper balance between church and state," Ms. Murakami said. Officials in the attorney general's office said Ms. Exstrom could thank God in her speech, but warned her against preaching. She gave her speech as written on June 3.

Chats With the Superintendent: The new superintendent of the Indianapolis public schools plans to interview scores of administrators and employees in a districtwide effort to improve performance.

Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas plans to begin this week interviewing about 130 central-office administrators and other certified and noncertified employees in the 45,000-student district. The purpose, said Ms. Zendejas, is to learn more about the employees and assess the needs of the state's largest school district.

Ms. Zendejas, who has been with the district since May 1, said last week that she wants to be responsive to the district's major problems, notably tight finances and lagging student achievement. She said the process will not result in any dismissals.

Vol. 14, Issue 38

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