Schools Face High-Tech Problems

Scheduling System Balks With Faulty Data

A new, $10 million computer system, called D.C. STARS, was designed to make it easier for city schools to track students' schedules, attendance and grades. But since classes began, scheduling problems have caused some students to spend days in the auditorium or library and forced some staff members to work well past midnight to correct the data.

"One spends less time tackling the problems of learning and teaching and more time on facilities and computer glitches," said one secondary-school principal.

Zoo Plans Public Debut of Panda in Nov.

Timed Tickets to Be Used for Expected Throngs

The National Zoo hopes to put the giant panda cub on public view in November. To deal with anticipated crowds, officials plan to issue timed-entry tickets to the Panda House.

Justice Hands Over Hazmat Plan

Secret Document Is Blueprint for Securing Rails

During a hearing in a lawsuit over a D.C. law that prohibits the rail shipment of hazardous materials through the city, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the Justice Department to turn over a copy of a secret plan to secure railways in the District.

A Justice attorney initially told the judge that the department probably would defy the order, but the department later turned over the plan.

The judge has scheduled another hearing in the case for Tuesday.

Ambrose Won't Run Again for Council

Eight-Year Member Battling Multiple Sclerosis

D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) said she will not seek reelection next year. She won a seat on the council in a special election in 1997 and was reelected to four-year terms in 1998 and 2002. Ambrose has been battling multiple sclerosis for six years.

"I am not running because it is difficult to deal with a complicated disease and a complicated job," she said. "I don't flatter myself thinking that the city will fall apart without my presence."

Property Tax Rate to Decrease 4 Cents

Extra Revenue Also Will Boost Social Programs

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said tax revenue is expected to exceed previous projections by $52 million next year, allowing the city to reduce the property tax rate for homeowners for the first time since 1991. Beginning in the spring, the rate will be 92 cents per $100 of assessed value, instead of 96 cents. The change will lower taxes on a $300,000 home by about $120.

Gandhi also said the additional revenue will allow the city to spend $21 million more on social programs, including $7 million for low-income housing assistance, $2 million for substance abuse programs and $3 million for mental health services for children in foster care.

Katrina Shelter to Close Within Weeks

Armory Could Be Used for Rita Evacuees

The D.C. Armory shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees is expected to close by mid-October. Officials say the goal is to place the storm survivors in permanent housing or hotels.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has told city officials that the armory might be needed for evacuees of Hurricane Rita.

Buffalo Soldier, 111, Buried at Arlington

Veteran Thought to Be Oldest From Regiment

Mark Matthews, believed to be the oldest of the Buffalo Soldiers, a black Army regiment that helped settle the West and fought abroad, was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Matthews was 111.

"He was a piece of living history," said Mary E. Brown, a friend and vice president of the Baltimore chapter of Buffalo Soldiers Inc.

Salute: Reenactors and others salute as Buffalo Soldier Mark Matthews, 111, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.