Washington school Supt. Vincent E. Reed, charging that a court-ordered equal spending plan has led to wide differences in school programs, has proposed instead that basic services and class size be equalized throughout the city school system.
Under the court secret issued by Judge J. Skelly Wright in 1971, per-pupil spending on [WORD ILLEGIBLE] salaries trust be within 5 per cent of the citywide average at every one of the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] elementary schools.
Because teachers' salaries vary widely depending on seniority, Reed said, the actual services that equal dollars can buy vary sharply among the schools.
For example, some schools have elaborate programs of art, music, physical education and other services, Reed said. Others, most of them housed in small buildings with older teachers, have virtually no progress other than those provided by regular classes because a larger share of the money alloted them goes to pay the higher salaries of senior teachers.
Many of the schools with curtailed programs, Reed said, have "inner city, black and poor students," even though Judge Wright sought in his decree to improve conditions for such children.
In addition, Reed said that under the dollar-equalization plan, schools with older teachers have larger classes. The average class size in city elementary schools ranges this year from 22 to 31 even though per-pupil spending is the same in all of them to comply with the court decree.
Reed urged that the D.C. school board go back to court to ask that Wright's order to changed to require that average class size be the same in every elementary school. He also urged that reading math, and physical education teachers be distributed according to the enrollment in different school, not according to salaries to that every school can offer the same program.
He urged that art, music, and foreign language teachers also be distributed according to school enrollment, but that schools be allowed to choose what mix of these services they want depending on interests and needs.
In addition, Reed urged that the court establish rules insuring the equal distribution of administrators, counselors, clerks and librarians, depending on school enrollment, and that the standards for equal services be applied to junior and senior high schools and prekindergarten programs.
Under the Wright decree, the equal-spending standard covers only teacher salaries in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Although the decision by Judge Wright in 1967 spoke broadly of equalizing resources throughout the D.C. school system, the equal-spending decree was never extended beyond elementary teacher's salaries.
Judge Wright made his decision in a case brought by Julius Hobson Sr., who now is a member of the D.C. City Council.
Although most school board members criticized the 1971 decree, the board voted to carry it out without an appeal. Two of Reed's predecessors as superintendent, Hugh Scott and Barbara Sizemore, also expressed unhappiness about the decree, but neither prepared a detailed plan for changing it.
Reed's new proposal is scheduled to come before the school board next month. The board must approve it before it can be presented to Judge Wright.
Since 1971, Reed said that about 675 teachers have been shifted to different schools to comply with the equalspending decree, including 137 who were shifted last November, more than two months after the start of the school year.
Although an earlier decision byJudge ized, Reed said the teacher shifts have "interrupted the continuity of instruction, dissipated instruction for students, required untold hardships of personnel and students, and (produced) inequities in the instructional program."
"Because of the dollar constraints (in Judge Wright's) equalization plan, we can't offer the same basic program in all our schools," said Betty Holton, an assistant to Reed who was in charge of preparing the new plan. "That's not the way it should be."