Fairfax County

The following were among actions taken by the Fairfax County School Board at its Feb. 11 meeting. For more information, call 246-2991.

MINORITY ACHIEVEMENT -- Minority students in Fairfax County schools have improved test scores, grades, and participation in gifted and talented programs, but a racial gap persists in many areas, school officials told the board in a formal report.

"It's obvious the commitment from the top is there. It's obvious there is progress in many areas," said School Board member Frank Francois, a black appointed to represent the minority community. "But it's obvious there are some areas" where problems remain, he said.

Standardized test scores for minorities have improved, black students are no longer disproportionately enrolled in programs for the emotionally disturbed, and the percentage of blacks is down in programs for the mentally rearded and up in gifted and talented center programs, the report said. Among black students, 53.8 percent now plan to attend four-year colleges, compared with 43.7 percent in 1983.

But test scores for black and Hispanic students still average below those for white and Asian students, and black and Hispanic students receive lower grades than whites, the report showed.

Between 1983 and 1987, scores on the SRA Achievement series, a standardized test given nationally and in Fairfax County, improved among minority and majority students. Among Fairfax County 11th graders in 1983, whites received average scores of 79, blacks 39, Hispanics 57 and Asians 66. In 1987, the scores averaged 82 for whites, 50 for blacks, 63 for Hispanics, and 76 for Asians.

Among fourth-graders, 1983 scores averaged 80 for whites, 45 for blacks, 61 for Hispanics and 79 for Asians. In 1987, these scores averaged 82 for whites, 56 for blacks, 68 for Hispanics, and 81 for Asians.

RETIREMENT PAY -- The school board reduced retirement benefits for teachers, administrators, and other employees, after recent changes in a state retirement program meant that some Fairfax County school workers are eligible to receive pensions that would be higher than their salaries.

Fairfax County school instructional workers contribute to and receive benefits from Social Security, a state retirement program and a local retirement program intended to supplement the state plan.

Last March, the state increased benefits under its program, so some school workers can now receive total state and local pensions of up to 108 percent of their salaries in the first years of their retirement. Pensions drop in later years once workers become eligible for Social Security.

The board unanimously decided to reduce some benefits under the county program so that combined state and local pensions will range between 71.25 percent and 99.75 percent of salary.

The changes will save the county an estimated $3 million a year, but will generally not go into effect until Jan. 1, 1991. Teachers who retire between now and 1991 will get the higher benefits.