No Shortage of Vouchers

Applicants Fall Short of Available Slots

Officials worried for months that they wouldn't have enough slots to accommodate those who wanted to take advantage of federal funds for school vouchers, but it turned out there weren't enough applicants from public schools to fill the available slots.

About 1,200 low-income children, though, will get private school scholarships starting in the fall, and 50 private schools have agreed to participate in the program.

Under the voucher program, families can get grants of up to $7,500 a child for tuition and other educational expenses at religious or private schools.

Mayor Drops School Takeover Bid

Control Issue Was Scaring Away Applicants

Faced with the possibility that a candidate for schools chief was leery about coming to the District because the mayor had campaigned to gain direct control of the city schools, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said he'd drop his idea.

Who seems to have brought an end to this long-running battle? Carl A. Cohn, 58, former Long Beach, Calif., superintendent of schools. Williams, two D.C. Council members and Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz flew to Long Beach to woo Cohn, who has been widely praised for his 10 years as superintendent there.

Williams said a superintendent could be hired as early as this week. Another candidate who bowed out had said the power struggle concerned him and was a potential stumbling block for other would-be applicants.

HUD Holds Off on Eliminating Subsidies

Agency Agrees Not to Displace Poorest Tenants

Fears that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would follow steps that would result in the loss of subsidized housing were put to rest, temporarily, when HUD officials promised to wait at least until September to yank subsidies from substandard housing.

They said they would work with officials and tenants to redevelop the neighborhood without displacing its poorest residents.

The housing was in areas between North Capitol and Seventh streets NW. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, who had threatened to go to court to preserve housing, said, "Those who live there will be protected, and they must be."

Chirp! You're on Nestcam!

Project Allows People to Watch Ospreys Grow Up

The ospreys of the Frederick Douglass Bridge are on camera and online. The birds' nest, which looks like a pile of sticks, is on a pier under the bridge and is occupied by two chicks and their parents.

The "nestcam" was installed as a result of an educational project about birds of prey. It involved students from Neval Thomas Elementary School in Northeast and the Earth Conservation Corps.

Head of School Office Departing

Spinner's Tenure Under Criticism, Investigations

The head of the D.C. State Education Office, after a controversial tenure, has decided to leave her post at the end of the month, city officials said.

C. Vannessa Spinner has headed the office since shortly after it was created in 2000 and, while admirers have praised her leadership, detractors, including a council member and anti-hunger advocates, have said she allowed programs to flounder. There have been investigations of the program, and the D.C. inspector general is looking into questions about expenditures of federal funds.

Across the Region

Homelessness Rises; Metro Fares Will Increase

* The number of homeless people in the Washington area rose for a fourth straight year. It was measured at 14,537 on Jan. 21.

* Metro's budget committee endorsed a plan to raise the minimum subway fare 15 cents to $1.35 and the local bus fare by a nickel to $1.25 at the end of the month. Monthly parking would rise $10 to $45. The committee added opening the rail system a half-hour earlier on weekdays, at 5 a.m. The full Metro board will vote on the plan Thursday.

Cosmic Sight: MJ Hall, left, Smithsonian curator Ronald Brashear and Nancy Gwinn watch from the roof of the American History museum as Venus crosses the face of the sun.