Wednesday's top education stories compiled by American School & University:

Feb. 12, 2003

In Part Four of its series on the school construction program in Miami-Dade Public Schools, The Miami Herald reports that the school board has failed to fix more than 44,000 fire- and life-safety hazards threatening the district's schools.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll has imposed a moratorium on state financing of school construction. About 350 school construction or renovation projects awaiting reimbursement from the state's School Building Assistance program. In the last few years, the waiting time for receiving the first reimbursement payment has grown from two or three years to as many as 10. (Boston Globe)

An internal audit of maintenance department operations in the Broward County, Fla., district found that the department is plagued by confusion, mismanagement and intimidation. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Boston School Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant testified in federal court that students' school assignments were not a product of racial bias. Payzant appeared at a hearing in a lawsuit accusing the district of favoring black students over whites in setting the district's attendance zones. (Boston Globe)

About 50 school-maintenance workers for the Orange County, Fla., district picketed administrative headquarters in hopes of keeping their jobs. A consultant has recommended that the district outsource its maintenance work and eliminate about 30 maintenance positions. (Orlando Sentinel)

The Boulder Valley (Colo.) school board will allow Bible clubs and other student-led groups to meet on school property. The board has revised a policy that prohibited student-formed clubs that weren't directly linked to curriculum. Two high school students who want to start a Bible club had sued the district to force a change in the policy. (Denver Post)

A Kansas group that wants to shrink the number of school districts in the state from 303 to 40 presented its case to state education officials. Backers said the consolidation proposal would take five to 10 years to carry out and save the state millions of dollars. (Kansas City Star)

With very few ballots left to count, the Renton (Wash.) School District is still short of the 60 percent approval needed to pass a $150 million bond measure. The bond, which would have paid for districtwide facility renovations, has garnered 59.89 percent of the vote counted so far. Election results are scheduled to be certified Friday. (Seattle Times)

The Falls Church (Va.) district is pioneering a faster way of building classrooms. It's giving control of school construction to the developer. The district is the first in Virginia to use a new state law that allows municipalities to form public-private partnerships to build schools. (Washington Post)

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says he plans to make education his top priority and will take a more active role in helping revive the city's schools. (Detroit News)

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to hold a referendum on abolishing the city school board. He says if the Tennessee attorney general rules that the City Council cannot call for the referendum, he probably will take the question to court. Eliminating the city board could lead to consolidation with the Shelby County school system. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Budget cuts are forcing school-based health centers in Massachusetts to reduce and eliminate services, and two will shut their doors as a result of state budget cuts. Two of the 71 centers in the state say they will close, and many others will reduce their hours. (Boston Globe)

Deer Valley (Ariz.) school district officials have hired a forensic engineer to determine why a metal-beam ceiling at an elementary school collapsed, just five years after the school was built. (Arizona Republic)

The Metropolitan Nashville school board has given conditional approval for Nashville's first charter school, which will serve 250 at-risk students from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade. (Nashville Tennesseean)

The list of needs and wants for Hawaii's public schools is long and costly. (Honolulu Advertiser)

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