Metts Seeks More High School Tests

County Students Did Poorly on New Md. Exam After the Prince George's County school system's disappointing performance on a new state exam that high school students eventually will have to pass to graduate, schools chief Iris T. Metts has proposed a $2 million plan to boost high school achievement.

Metts's plan would begin to test students sooner on some of the skills needed for the assessment tests, requiring students to take benchmark tests that would resemble the assessment exams and would count toward a student's report card grade. The plan also offers tutoring -- most likely from private providers -- for failing students.

Montgomery Calendar Irks Parents

Classes Will Again Start Before Labor Day

Some parents in Montgomery County are angry that the school board has decided to start school next year before Labor Day for the second year in a row, and there has been talk of a boycott. School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said students need the extra days to support a higher level of achievement. But some parents complain that the early start cuts into vacation plans and that officials ignored their requests to start after Labor Day.

Howard Planning Official Moving On

Rutter Will Guide Arundel's Growth Over the years, Joseph W. Rutter, Howard County's director of planning and zoning, has found himself in the middle of countless controversies about the county's rapid growth. Now, the days of big-scale projects are disappearing as Howard reaches buildout. Rutter is leaving his longtime post to take the same job in Anne Arundel County, which is still struggling with intense development pressures.

Dachshund's Attack Surprises Many

6-Week-Old Boy's Legs, Feet Mauled

The mauling of a 6-week-old St. Mary's County boy by his family's pet dachshund has confounded authorities and dog lovers alike. The breed is not generally associated with such attacks. Early last Sunday, the dog chewed through the mesh of a playpen and dragged the infant onto the floor. It mauled the child's legs and feet, causing considerable loss of blood.

Glendening Pushes Through Land Deal

Schaefer Attacks Governor on Budget Woes In his waning days in office, Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) won approval for two deals that would preserve more than 27,000 acres of Maryland forest and farmland, including parcels on the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

But first, Glendening had to win over his nemesis, the cantankerous Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, who spent much of a Board of Public Works meeting railing at the governor. In the end, Schaefer approved the deals, which cost $19 million collectively, but chided Glendening for doing little to address the state's budget woes.

Schaefer and lawmakers, Democratic and Republican, also criticized Glendening for offering state employees a contract with a 2 percent wage hike amid a shortfall that could reach $1.7 billion over two years.

Leggett to Lead State Democrats

Ex-Councilman Urged to Woo Conservatives Former Montgomery County Councilman Isiah Leggett was chosen as the new chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Democrats said they hope Leggett will help consolidate the party's liberal base and reach out to conservatives in suburban and rural areas.

Intercounty Connector Pace Attacked

Foes Fear Speedy Environmental Review Opponents of an intercounty connector are asking the federal government to turn down a request by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to expedite environmental review of the long-debated highway project.

Montgomery Council member Philip Andrews (D-Rockville) said the proposed road linking I-270 and I-95 has posed too many environmental risks to be fast-tracked. He also told Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta in a Dec. 12 letter that the Bush administration's weak environmental record made it a dubious candidate to conduct a streamlined review.

Hero's day: Jeanie Marie Quade rescued a youngster from a crashed car in Welcome that later caught fire.