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Fall 2002 Vol. 10. No. 1 Focus on Multicultural Education

Other news & features

Highlights of Vallas's five-year academic, financial plans

By Kate Nelson on Sep 25, 2002 11:33 AM

Academic program

  • Provide mandatory extended day programs for students starting in grade 2 who are performing below grade level in reading and math (reaching up to 75,000 students)
  • Provide mandatory summer school for students in grades 3 to 10 who do not meet promotion
  • requirements or are performing below grade level (reaching about 75,000 students)

  • Create neighborhood-based magnet programs, in part by adding the International Baccalaureate
  • program and Advanced Placement courses to neighborhood high schools

  • Convert most middle schools into K-8 schools
  • Create “quality review teams” composed of central office administrators, regional staff, and school-based staff to evaluate academic progress in schools and suggest corrective actions
  • Switch primary school promotion grade from fourth to third grade

Safety initiatives

  • Implement a Uniform Code of Student Conduct, given to every student, teacher, and principal, that articulates clear disciplinary procedures and a commitment to “zero tolerance”
  • Increase number of spots in alternative schools programs for violent students, so they are not placed in neighborhood schools

Facilities plans

  • Build nine new high schools, one in each of the District’s regions, designed to be small high schools with 800 to 1,000 students
  • Convert former middle school buildings into smaller high schools
  • Build new science labs, libraries, and technology centers in high schools

Other programs

  • Adopt the “Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds” program, which provides health screenings including vision and hearing exams
  • Implement Cradle to Classroom Program to educate teenage mothers and their infants
  • Build alternative teacher recruitment strategies by bringing in Teach for America and Troops to Teachers and expanding the Literacy Intern Teacher program to grade three

Financial plan

Vallas has proposed a five-year financial plan for supporting these new initiatives that will be subject to approval by the School Reform Commission. The plan anticipates a total of $640 million in savings over five years through budget cuts and improved management while also bringing in additional funds. Under his plan, the District would continue to run a deficit but, because it borrowed $300 million in May, it will have $13 million available at the end of 2007.

Savings will come from a variety of sources including debt refinancing, consolidating or closing properties, lowering utility expenses, reducing overtime costs, controlling the costs of contracts, and “cracking down” on abuses in the worker’s compensation program.

The plan is based on several assumptions about revenue sources, including that the city will continue to provide an extra $60 million in operating fund support; that the state will continue to provide $75 million extra plus increases to reimburse 30 percent of charter school costs; and that there will be a 4 percent annual increase in the basic education subsidy from the state.

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