News in Brief
Mohawks End 12 Day Sit-In At N.Y. Elementary School
An elementary school in upstate New York reopened last week after Mohawk Indians who had taken over the school in a protest over the education of children from a nearby reservation agreed to leave.
The 315 pre-K-4 students at the St. Regis Mohawk School in Hogansburg returned to class on Sept. 16, 12 days after their school year was supposed to begin.
"There was some minor confusion, but it was mostly business as usual," said Michael J. Singleton, the superintendent of the 1,600-student Salmon River school district, which the state pays to educate Mohawk children from the St. Regis Mohawk reservation.
The sit-in began Sept. 4 when about 40 members of the tribe walked into the school and declared a peaceful takeover. ("Disgruntled Mohawks Take Over N.Y. School," Sept. 18, 1996.)
The Mohawks agreed to leave after negotiations with state and district officials produced an agreement in which the Mohawks will have greater involvement in the schools.
L.A. Receives $8.2 Million
Seeking to improve professional development for Los Angeles-area teachers, a foundation has awarded $8.2 million for a large-scale cooperative effort between local teachers and universities.
The grant from the Los Angeles-based Weingart Foundation, announced this month, will support a five-year professional-training and -support system to be administered by the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project.
Schools in Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as area branches of the California State University system, will participate.
The grant will support a professional-development academy that will provide training and support to teachers and schools. The project will also help coordinate training programs for new and experienced teachers in local schools.
Ariz. Licenses School Day-Care
A new law in Arizona requires day-care centers operated by public schools to be licensed by the state department of health services. But the department's inspectors already have a backlog of work, and the legislature failed to appropriate a $380,000 request for additional staff members to handle the load.
Child advocates fear the new requirement will divert attention from private child-care centers with serious violations. "We've given [the inspectors] less capacity to weed out the bad apples," said Irene Jacobs, a senior program associate with the Children's Action Alliance, an advocacy group based in Phoenix.
The new licensing requirement grew out of complaints from for-profit centers in the state that the schools were giving them unfair competition, Ms. Jacobs said.
Reno Voters Reject Bond
Voters in Washoe County, Nev., have turned thumbs down to a bond proposal to pay for 10 new schools in and around Reno, the first time ever that the fast-growing district has lost a bond election.
Nearly three-quarters of the $196 million package had been earmarked for building two high schools, two middle schools, and six elementary schools. The remaining $50 million was needed to modernize buildings, improve technology, and expand occupational programs, said Steve Mulvenon, a district spokesman.
The 49,000-student district has begun considering responses to the Sept. 3 defeat, ranging from an increase in temporary classrooms to the introduction of year-round, multi-track scheduling.
Mass. Town Opens School
The proud residents of a northwest Massachusetts town opened their own elementary school this fall after years of sending their students to neighboring communities.
The $3.3 million school, built with the collaborative efforts of the 800 residents of Heath, opened this month with 125 students. The town had been paying about $4,500 a student to send its youngsters to the neighboring towns of Rowe and Charlemont. The last of Heath's own public schools closed in 1968.
Heath Elementary School will emphasize the importance of community involvement and a "comprehensive, unified curriculum," said Principal Philip O'Reilly.
Mosquitoes Worry R.I. Schools
About 10,000 students in five Rhode Island districts are starting and ending their school day late after a portion of this year's unusually large mosquito population tested positive for the deadly encephalitis virus.
State officials recommended the later hours for the Hopkinton, Little Copton, South Kingston, Tiverton, and Westerly districts after the virus was found in about 1 percent of the mosquito population in those areas. Experts said the mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, and that later school hours would limit students' exposure to the pests.
Some schools are also holding recesses indoors, and others have postponed outdoor athletic events. The delays will continue until a "killing frost" threatens the mosquito population, state officials said.
No cases of encephalitis, a potentially fatal virus, have been reported in the state.
Trial Begins in Kansas City
A trial began last week in a civil lawsuit against the Kansas City, Mo., schools filed by former Superintendent Walter Marks.
Mr. Marks was fired last year after a television news crew filmed him lifting boxes in Florida while he was on leave for chronic back pain. ("K.C. Chief Suspended Over Expenses and Leave," Feb. 15, 1995.)
On the trial's first day, Mr. Marks testified that personal tragedies, a grueling travel schedule, and a hostile school board sent him into severe clinical depression. He is suing the 29,000-student district for wrongful termination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming he took time off for the illness and was fired when he was ready to return.
N.Y.C. Plans Year-Round Test
The chancellor of the New York City schools announced plans last week to test a year-round schedule that could ease the district's severe overcrowding.
The 1.1 million-student district is as many as 91,000 students above capacity this fall. Chancellor Rudy F. Crew told a City Council committee on school crowding last week that switching some schools to year-round classes would help ease the crisis. No plans had been announced about which schools would participate in the test or how many students would be affected, a district spokeswoman said.
Comments Anger Mich. City
A teacher's remarks that students in a suburban Detroit district are "ill-bred and ill-mannered" and that teachers deserve to get paid more has heated up tensions in the midst of contract negotiations.
The remarks by the teacher, a bargaining negotiator in the Redford Union schools, at a board meeting earlier this month were quoted in the Detroit News. Parents and other teachers denounced the comments. Kenneth L. Johnson, the superintendent of the 5,000-student district, said many teachers had let him know that they disagreed with the comment.
The teacher, Elaine Miller, said last week that she was referring to students in general, not just Redford's. "All I was trying to do is show that the job is very difficult," she said in an interview.
The 30-year veteran English teacher said many colleagues as well as parents had told her they supported her remarks.
'No Pass, No Play' in Md.
The Howard County, Md., school board has joined a small but growing number of districts across the country in strengthening "no pass, no play" rules for student participation in cocurricular activities.
The new measure, which takes effect Nov. 15, requires high school students to pass all their classes and maintain a 2.0 grade-point average. Under the current policy, students may fail one course as long as they have a 2.0 GPA.
Vol. 16, Issue 04