Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 16, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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© Copyright 2001DECEMBER 16, 2001
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Mirror photo by Gary M Baranec
Irving Elementary teacher Kathy Oakes conducts a choral reading with her second-grade class. Like all Irving students, her class must follow dress guidelines that require clothes to be solid colors. Irving staff say the dress code has Improved the learning atmosphere.
Irving recognized for achievement
Long-term success not measured
By Jay Young Staff Writer
Kassie Smith remembers how things at Irving Elementary used to be.
It wasn’t a very fun place for a first-grader. The city school was plagued with attendance problems and dysfunctional families who mostly participated in mandated student discipline.
It seemed like it only would get worse as Smith entered second grade in 1997. It was another year at a school she didn’t like and now the principal was going to make them follow a dress code allowing only single-colored clothing with no writing.
“I didn’t really like it,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure about wearing a uniform.”
What she didn’t know at the time was that the change was just a portion of a new way of * doing business.
It changed the school — and Smith.
The drastic changes recently caught the attention of the state Department of Education. Irving Elementary this month was named one of 18 Governor’s Schools of Achievement. Students and staff were recognized with a $25,000 reward for three consecutive years of improving state test scores by at least 50 points.
Please see Irving/Page AIQ
By Jay Young Staff Writer
Schools in area counties recently were awarded more than $500,000 for improved scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
The money was distributed by the state Department of Education for tests taken by fifth-, eighth- and llth-graders last spring. The award is based on improved scores from the previous year.
What the performance funding doesn’t measure is success over the long run. Huntingdon Middle School has never received funding from the pro-
■ A chart of performance funding by school district / Page A11
gram, which started in 1998. The eighth-graders who took the test last spring scored 150 points less than the first time the test was given during the performance funding program.
A different story is told at nearby Southside Elementary, where scores have dropped 160 points since performance funding began. Southside has received $18,668 dollars during the same period.
The difference is in how the schools reached the final number.
Please see Success/Page AIQ
■ State House and Senate differ over redistricting plans.
By Robert Igok
State Senate President Pro Tem and Lt. Gov. Robert C. Jubelirer will be a key player in the upcoming negotiation over competing congressional redistricting plans.
Jubelirer is a member of a conference committee that will try to hash out differences between Senate and House plans to restructure Pennsylvania’s political boundaries in light of significant population losses in the 2000 census.
The state Senate and House approved vastly different plans to redraw the state’s 21 congressional districts into 19.
The Senate’s highly controversial plan would pit eight Democratic incumbents, including 12th District U.S. Rep. John Murtha, against one another for four new seats.
The conference committee — two Republicans each from the House and Senate, and one Democrat each from the House and Senate — will be made up of House Majority Leader John Perzel, R Philadelphia; Minority Whip Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney; Senate Majority Leader David “Chip" Brighten, R-Lebanon; and Jubelirer.
Democratic Minority Leaders Sen. Robert Mellow of Lackawanna and Rep. H. William DeWeese of Waynesburg, are also on the committee but are not expected to be a factor in the final agreement. Their votes are not needed to reach a compromise between the Republican plans.
David Atkinson, an aide to Jubelirer, said the committee is aiming for a compromise plan.
“We are doing everything possible to bring this to a conclusion by the end of the year,” he said. “The Senate is still committed to pre-
serving the basic outline of its plan, but hopefully, within the next week, we can begin negotiating to iron out the differences and have a plan for the governor to sign.”
“They’ll hash out something together and bring it up for a vote,” state Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg, said.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you the issue is not partisan because it is,”
Stem told Blair « ounty Chamber members last week. “It’s parti I san in every state where the
Legislatures are deciding who sits where and what the districts are going to look like.”
Penn State Altoona political science professor Daniel DiLeo said the differing plans reflect the makeup of the General Assembly.
“The Senate has more leadership from this area, so their plan is very good to [U.S. Rep. Bill] Shuster,” he said. “But the House, on the other hand, has more of its leadership from Philadelphia, thus the focus on that area. It’s still hard to say who will prevail because there is not much to go on; but either way, we will see the loss of Democratic seats.”
The Senate’s major sticking point appears to be a proposed new district in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Atkinson said Jubelirer also wants to preserve the 9th District in its current form as much as possible by keeping all of Huntingdon County in the 9th, rather than placing part of it in U.S. Rep. John Peterson’s 5th District, as in the House plan.
Please see Lines/Page A5Police remain mum on Bedford murder
By Mark Leberfinger and William Kibler Staff Writers
QUEEN — More than two weeks have passed since the murder of Dana Gates and the attack on Lorin Burket, and police won’t say whether they are any closer to making an arrest.
Burket is still alive. But Sgt. Daniel Krauss of the state police at Bedford won’t confirm whether Burket is still a patient at Altoona Hospital or still under police guard.
At least two search warrants have been executed so far in the investigation—one at an unknown
Please see Murder/Page A5
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State begins 3-year buck study
The Associated Press
Penn State University biologist Bret Wallingford attaches a radio collar to a young male deer in a study with the state Game Commission.
By Charles Sheehan The Associated Press
FORD CITY — A fawn scampering across an open field in western Pennsylvania Wednesday was snared by a net and whisked away by helicopter, unwittingly becoming one of the first subjects of an extensive study on the behavior of young bucks.
Researchers from the state Game Commission and Penn State University will capture and tag 600 deer using drop nets, walk-in traps, dart guns and helicopters as part of a three-year buck study said to be the largest ever.
Duane Diefenbach, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at Penn State, said only a handful of similar studies have been done in the past and those involved 30 deer at the most.
■ Overpopulation of geese troubles some state residents / Page C9
Bucks stay with their mothers for about a year, but little is known about their behavior after they disperse, said Gary Alt, head of the Game Commission’s deer management section, which is leading the study.
The study will use electronic transmitters to track how many deer survive from 6-month-old fawns to 20-month-old bucks, how many are killed by hunters and how many die of other causes.
Researchers hope to study the behavior of bucks and help state game officials revise how they manage the deer population with hunting seasons.
Please see Buck/Page A6
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