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Janey receives cool reception at oversight hearing
-- Courtney Mabeus, The Examiner

District of Columbia: February 28, 2007 -- District of Columbia Public School Superintendent Clifford Janey faced a combative D.C. Council during an oversight education hearing Tuesday, just hours after Mayor Adrian Fenty received a warm reception from the same panel on his school takeover bill. Janey testified about the state of the systems progress at a time when Fenty is seeking to eliminate the power of the Board of Education. “I am aware that neither the Council, nor some residents of this city believe the positive results are being realized quickly enough,” Janey told members of the Committee of the Whole. “Education experts know there is no quick fix to the myriad of problems that have plagued urban school districts for decades.”

Fenty makes final bid for public schools plan
-- Gary Emerling, Washington Times

District of Columbia: February 28, 2007 -- D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty yesterday made his final pitch to take over the public schools, telling council members he would increase student test scores, redesign the report card and explore offering bonuses to overachieving teachers and principals. The proposals were detailed in a 31-page report of initiatives and classroom results Mr. Fenty submitted to council members to support his takeover bid. "Just like other agencies under my administration, the school system and the transformation on which we are about to embark will be managed by outcomes," Mr. Fenty said during the seventh council hearing on his proposal. The series of forums have featured nearly 60 hours of testimony and hundreds of witnesses.

Most on Council Back Fenty's Takeover Plan
-- Nikita Stewart and David Nakamura, Washington Post

District of Columbia: February 28, 2007 -- At the last of seven public hearings yesterday on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's plan to take over the D.C. public schools, a majority of D.C. Council members voiced approval for the proposal, but several also indicated support for giving the Board of Education more power than Fenty (D) intended. Several council members suggested that they favor amendments that could allow the board, instead of the mayor, to appoint a chief state education officer and a school ombudsman. Fenty's testimony brought a series of exhaustive public hearings to a close. "I must say that I'm glad that it's about to be over," said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). "It's time. It really is time to act. No need for further studies. . . . Now, it's up to the council. Let's go." But council members first had questions and recommendations for Fenty yesterday -- three hours' worth. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) was the first member to suggest that the school board could hire the state education officer who would oversee early childhood education, adult education, health requirements and other matters. "This would allow not only an elected board to stay in place . . . but it also would give, I think, some real authority," he said. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) suggested giving the school board more control by giving it more to oversee. "I do think there is something to be said for assigning more state education responsibility to the state board of education, whether that is things from graduation requirements to curriculum to teacher education standards, so on," he said. "That won't inhibit your ability to run the schools themselves."

San Diego Schools Being Shorted on Maintenance, Study Says
-- Helen Gao, San Diego Union-Tribune

California: February 26, 2007 -- About $131 million a year is spent on maintenance and operations in the San Diego school district, but taxpayers in the state's second largest public education system are far from getting the most bang for the buck, a contested study says. Completed by a consulting firm at a cost of $195,525, the study calls for an $800,000 overhaul that could affect more than 1,000 custodians, landscapers, architects and others. The study details numerous deficiencies, but its accuracy is being challenged by maintenance and operations director Bill Dos Santos. Trustees are scheduled to discuss creating a new management structure. Other proposals would increase the number of landscapers from about 70 to 101 and raise custodial spending by $633,000 to $33.5 million a year. Money for more landscapers has already been budgeted, according to consultant Phil Stover, and the modest increase for custodial services would come from realigning existing resources. Past cuts have decimated landscaping and custodial services, and parents have complained about the appearance of schools. District officials insisted the reorganization would be cost-neutral, but some question that assertion.

Students Say Locker Size Is Cramping Their Style
-- Daniel de Vise, Washington Post

Maryland: February 25, 2007 -- Oversize textbooks, rolling backpacks, sub-zero mountaineering parkas: The gear required to equip today's student is getting bigger. But the school locker, that shrine to adolescent personal space, is not. A typical school locker is one foot wide, one foot deep and six feet high. The dimensions are meant to balance the needs of students -- who desire sufficient space for their books, jackets and Justin Timberlake collages -- and the concerns of school officials, who don't want lockers so large as to hold an entire wardrobe or an entire student. Nationwide, school lockers range from one to two feet wide and deep and five to six feet high, said Scott Howard, a sales manager with locker seller Cisco-Eagle Inc. in Dallas. "There are four, five major locker manufacturers in the country, and they've all been making them for a million years, and they really haven't changed," he said. Dimensions are ultimately dictated by space. There's not enough hallway in the typical school to fit 1,000 lockers wider than about a foot apiece, Song said.