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US government earmarks $100 million for violence prevention

President Clinton on Saturday announced $106 million in grants aimed at reducing youth violence. In his weekly radio address, Clinton said that the money would enable the schools to hire more resources officers, improve mental health services, modernize security systems, and expand after-school and mentoring programs.

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The 54 school districts were chosen among hundreds of applications after developing comprehensive safe-school plans that provide for drug and violence prevention. They include Jonesboro, Ark., where five people were killed in March 1998, and Springfield, Ore., where two were killed in May 1998. The grants are part of the Safe Schools/Healthy Schools Initiative, a joint effort of the departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services to develop methods to identify troubled youths and prevent violence. The White House said the Justice Department was also releasing $17 million in Community Oriented Policing Services grants for 46 communities to hire 147 police officers to work in schools.

Teachers walk out in US Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands - Thirty-nine teachers quit the US Virgin Islands school system in the past six weeks because of low pay and 12 were fired for not reporting to work, the Department of Education says. The islands' schools employ 1,800 teachers and educational aides. The Education Department and teachers' unions blame salaries that are low compared with those of US counterparts. Entry-level teachers on the islands receive about $22,000 a year, lower than the US average starting salary as determined by a recent Michigan State University study. The cash-strapped local government owes teachers about $100 million in retroactive wages and has not increased salaries since 1993, said Glen Smith, president of the St. Thomas-St. John chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

Goodbye chalkboards, hello markers

New Haven, Conn. - Teachers say they can't quite pinpoint when chalk and blackboards began disappearing, but they invariably link it to the introduction of class computers, which are sensitive to chalk dust. The Association of School Business Officials International, an alliance of about 6,000 school purchasing managers, budget directors, and financial officers, confirms that teachers are overwhelmingly demanding marker boards.

Ken Clark, director of supply services for the Jefferson County Public School District in Louisville, Ky., said his district has built 15 new schools in the last 10 years, and nary a chalkboard can be found. "We're trying to have at least one computer in every classroom," Mr. Clark said, "and the chalk dust is a problem with the new technology."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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