THE REGION

Man Walks Into Side of Metro Train

A man was critically injured last night when he apparently walked into the side of a moving train from the platform of the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station in Fairfax County, authorities said.

The man, whose identity was being withheld pending notification of relatives, was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital with what appeared to be a head injury, said Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson. He was listed in critical condition last night, a hospital spokeswoman said. Trains were delayed for about 10 minutes after the 7:17 p.m. incident.

Metro officials asked witnesses to call 202-962-2121.

THE DISTRICT

Vance Proposes School Budget Increase

D.C. School Superintendent Paul L. Vance yesterday proposed an operating budget for next year that would increase local spending from $740.5 million to $847.9 million.

Vance said the budget would cover previously approved salary increases for teachers and other staff members and allow for various improvements, including adding advanced courses and spending more to repair facilities. He said he realizes that the city's revenue is down but said the increase is needed to improve academic achievement.

Vance said his proposal would provide funding for a second Spanish-English bilingual program comparable to that at Oyster Elementary School, for which there has been high parental demand.

The school board now must consider the proposal, and the budget then will be sent to the mayor, the D.C. Council and Congress.

Donations Sought for Needy Families' Pets

The Washington Animal Rescue League will accept donations for needy pets of low-income families this Saturday and next. The drive is part of the league's second annual "Presents for Paws."

League officials said unopened dog and cat food, new toys, beds and blankets are needed. Donations will be accepted from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 14 at the league's headquarters at 71 Oglethorpe St. NW and at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery at 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW. Gifts also can be dropped off at the league's shelter during regular hours.

Goods will be available to low-income families Dec. 21 from noon to 3 p.m. at the league offices. Those without transportation are asked to call 202-726-2556, Ext. 315, to arrange delivery.

Williams to Run for League of Cities Post

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) leaves this morning for a five-day visit to Salt Lake City, where he plans to attend the annual convention of the National League of Cities and run for a top post.

Williams has long eyed the presidency of the group, which advocates for 1,700 municipal officials across the country.

The election Saturday is for the office of second vice president. Victory would put Williams in a chain of ascension that would make him president in 2004. There are several potential candidates for the job.

Woman Dies From Burns Suffered in Fire

A 94-year-old woman died early yesterday from burns suffered in a fire Sunday at her Northwest Washington apartment, authorities said.

A caretaker found Louise Dellett about 1 p.m. Sunday in her third-floor apartment in the 4500 block of Connecticut Avenue, said fire and rescue spokesman Alan Etter. The fire apparently began when a cigarette fell between two couch cushions and then spread to Dellett's nightgown, Etter said. Dellett received second- and third-degree burns over much of her body and died at 1 a.m. yesterday at Washington Hospital Center.

MARYLAND

Fumes Cause School to Close Early

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School closed early yesterday after fumes from a concrete floor sealant being used in the building on East West Highway became irritating, officials said.

The fumes were not toxic, but school officials decided to vacate the building.

Montgomery County fire officials said they received a call about 1 p.m. about students with headaches and nausea but did not have to treat anyone. After-school and evening activities are canceled, but school officials expect to reopen the building today.

VIRGINIA

Allen Appoints Top Aide to GOP Post

Sen. George Allen (Va.), incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, yesterday named chief aide Jay Timmons to be director of the NRSC.

Timmons succeeds Mitch Bainwol, who will leave the committee with the departing chairman, Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.), at the end of the year.

Timmons, 40, has served since 1991 as chief of staff to Allen during his terms in the House, as Virginia governor and in the Senate. In his Senate office, Allen promoted Michael E. Thomas, his top Virginia aide and a former state secretary of administration, to serve as acting chief of staff. Scheduling director Teresa DeRoco will become Thomas's deputy.

"The new finance restrictions will make our job much more difficult over the next two years, but our team is motivated and focused on winning," Allen said. "Jay's leadership ability has been an essential component of my political and policy successes for more than 11 years."

Va. Congressman Named Deputy Whip

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the new House majority whip, said yesterday he is appointing Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) as his chief deputy.

Cantor, 39, who last month won reelection to his second term, will assume the highest appointed position in the House Republican leadership when the new Congress convenes next month. Cantor has been part of the whip organization of the incoming majority leader, Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), which is responsible for keeping GOP members informed and in line.

Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, has helped the party reach out to Jewish voters. He serves on the House International Relations and Financial Services committees.

"If I'm in that position one day, it makes me want to give back, too."

-- Harish Ruchandani, 24, a George Mason University law student, after learning that an anonymous fellow student had donated enough money to cover a $192 tuition increase for 100 of his neediest classmates. -- Page B3

Compiled from reports by staff writers Arthur Santana, Justin Blum, David A. Fahrenthold, Manny Fernandez, Spencer S. Hsu and Craig Timberg and the Associated Press.