Arlington County

The following were among actions taken at a Dec. 6 meeting of the Arlington County School Board. For more information, call 358-6000.

SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AGE -- The board approved raising the compulsory age for school attendance in Arlington from 17 to 18, to correspond with legislation passed last year by the Virginia General Assembly.

The state law, which went into effect July 1, is an attempt to keep Virginia students in school to finish their high school education and receive their diplomas.

Children under the age of 6 and those receiving home instruction are exempt from compulsory attendance.

Parents who choose to educate their children at home must have a baccalaureate degree, be a teacher or have their child enrolled in a correspondence course approved by the State Board of Education or prove that their home study program will be comparable to the appropriate level of state-mandated schooling. Currently, 42 students in the county receive home instruction.

Students in families opposed to school attendance for religious reasons also are excused from compulsory attendance. The principal, superintendent and a judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court must agree that an excuse is advisable; their recommendations are forwarded to the School Board for a final determination. At this time, there are no county students excused from attending school for religious reasons.

Fairfax County

The following was among actions taken at the Dec. 6 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board. For more information, call 246-2991.

PAY RAISE VOTE DEFERRED -- The School Board voted 6 to 4 to defer making a decision on a proposal that would increase the annual salaries of some principals and administrators. The increases would cost the school system an additional $890,789 next year.

The board decided to put off the vote until early next year, after it has had a chance to consider the proposal as part of its overall budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.

Recently, County Board Chairman Audrey Moore advised the School Board to reject the proposal because overall school funding is tight. And school teachers have complained that it would be unfair to give salary increases to administrators when teachers have been told they will not get cost-of-living salary increases next year.

Specifically, the proposal is to combine two existing salary scales for school administrators into a more equitable single-salary scale.

Under the current, separated pay scales, school-based administrators ranging from media specialists to secondary school principals are paid $37,000 to $80,008, depending on their position and level of experience. Support administrators who work out of school system offices, such as social workers, curriculum directors and area administrators, are paid from $40,029 to $75,148.

If the two scales are merged, the salaries of most positions would have to be slightly adjusted to fit into a single scale, resulting in some salary increases.

School Board Chairman Kohann H. Whitney and board members Joanne T. Field, Letty A. Fleetwood, Robert E. Frye, Armando M. Rodriguez and Nathaniel Choate voted to defer a vote on the proposal.

Members Anthony T. Lane, Anthony Cardinale, Carla M. Yock and Laura I. McDowall, who said they approved merging the salary scales, voted against delaying the decision.

City of Falls Church

The following was among actions taken at the Dec. 6 meeting of the Falls Church School Board. For more information, call 241-7648.

STATE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES -- The board approved city School Board positions on state school issues that may come up at the next session of the Virginia General Assembly, which begins in January.

The board supports the continued independence of the school system in Falls Church, which became an independent city 40 years ago for the primary purpose of establishing its own public school system. The board made the statement to strengthen its position on the issue.

The board is urging the state to amend its law requiring all students to pass a literacy test by the eighth grade to permit exceptions for students who enter school without proficiency in English. The city is considering the possibility of awarding special certificates to these students.

In setting levels of state educational funding, the city should not be penalized because of its high level of local funding, the School Board contends. The state, which is considering distributing state school funds to give more assistance to poor rural counties and cities, should also take into account the high cost of living in the Northern Virginia area, the School Board argues.

The board is seeking additional state funds for the growing cost of its English as a Second Language (ESL) program. The city currently has 54 students enrolled in the program, 4.3 percent of the total school population. Many of the students in the program are illiterate in their own languages, making learning more difficult and thus more costly.

The state has proposed cutting state funding for placement of special education students in non-public schools from 60 to 20 percent. The board wants state funding to enable about 10 city students to continue at the current level.

The board also wants continued state funding for programs that identify "at-risk" students -- those with the lowest scores on state standardized tests. The city would like to include special education students and ESL students, who may be excluded from the standardized testing programs, in the at-risk population.

The board is seeking increased reimbursement by the state in line with the actual number of instructional personnel, such as teachers, guidance counselors and librarians, that the city employs. The state allocates one instructional person per a number of students, but the number of these employees currently exceeds the state's allocation for the positions.

Finally, the board opposes proposed legislation that might require the city to provide bus transportation to parochial and private school students. Coordinating bus transportation for students who attend private school located in other jurisdictions would strain the city's already tight public school bus service.