Boston To Expand Its Pilot-Schools Program

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District and teachers' union officials in Boston have agreed to expand their version of charter schools by opening the "pilot school" program to schools citywide.

The 72,000-student district and the Boston Teachers' Union created the experimental program for six schools in 1994, largely in response to the passage of Massachusetts' charter school law. Pilot schools operate free from the teachers' union contract and from many district regulations.

The schools have been "a valuable laboratory for educational innovation," said Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant.

Records Request Rejected

A Wisconsin circuit court has denied a high school valedictorian's request to view the records district officials used to decide the winner of a college scholarship.

Elizabeth Blum, now a student at the University of Wisconsin, asked the court to order the 550-student Johnson Creek district to release the final-semester records of the student who won the scholarship last spring.

Judge Jacqueline Erwin said in a Jan. 18 ruling that the "disclosure of students' marks is not mandated by public-records law," and noted that releasing another student's records to Ms. Blum would violate the state's school-records law.

Turning the Corner

Eleven New York City schools were removed last week from a state "watch" list for poor-performing schools.

Nine of the schools had met performance goals set by the state, said Richard P. Mills, the New York state education commissioner. The two other schools had reorganized their programs and structure enough to warrant their removal from the list.

Six other city schools showed improvement in student performance but have not yet met the state targets.

D.C. Student Killed

Authorities in Washington were searching last week for two gunmen who entered a city school Jan. 19 and shot and killed a 14-year-old student.

Damion Blocker, an 8th grader at Roper Middle School, was killed by a stray bullet as he waited to pick up his 5-year-old cousin at the pre-K-8 Winston Education Center, police said. The two gunmen had chased another student into the building, police said.

Franklin Smith, the superintendent of schools for the District of Columbia, said after the shooting that he was considering a challenge to fire-code regulations that bar school officials from locking school doors.

Unwelcome Lice

Reports of head lice in the Portland, Ore.-area public schools have tripled this year.

The number of cases in the Multnomah County Education Service District, which includes Portland and nine smaller districts, has jumped from about 500 last year to 1,500 this year, said Dee Kathryn Bauer, the director of school health services. School officials are sending the students home with information on how to treat the communicable disease. They are also screening all students.

"Head lice seem to carry this strange stigma--that it only occurs to people who are unhygienic. But that is not true." Ms. Bauer said. "Anyone can get head lice, just like anyone can get a cold."

Vol. 15, Issue 19

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