- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Hundreds of children in Baltimore and Prince George's County want to transfer this fall from failing public schools, and state school officials are scrambling to find spaces for them.
Baltimore received 347 applications from the 30,000 children eligible for transfer under the new federal No Child Left Behind Act. The city school district has scheduled a lottery today to fill 194 seats it says are open this fall in better schools.
About 700 of the 6,000 eligible students in Prince George's County applied, but that school district found room for only 100.
"We're not interested in being confrontational," said Ronald A. Peiffer, assistant state superintendent. "Both the state and the districts are interested in opening up more slots. We've had meetings with both Prince George's and Baltimore, and we think we can work it out to everyone's satisfaction."
With three weeks until schools open in Prince George's County and four in Baltimore, hundreds of parents don't know where their children will go to school. The situation is complicated by the opening of nine new schools in Prince George's.
"We're working feverishly to solve all of the problems," said schools chief Iris T. Metts.
The new federal act, signed into law by President Bush in January, requires the school districts to pay for transportation of the students transferring to higher-performing schools. Children left behind must receive supplemental services, such as tutoring and after-school instruction, with the highest priority given to children most at risk of failure.
The 700 applications in Prince George's County stand in sharp contrast to other districts in Maryland. Only 92 of 1,347 eligible Baltimore County students wanted to move to a better school, and 77 of 2,478 eligible children signed up in Anne Arundel County.
Eligible children are in schools with two consecutive years of poor performance, and Prince George's County and Baltimore lead the state in the number of schools placed on the state's failure list, known as "reconstitution eligible."
Mr. Peiffer also said the state is working with school officials in Howard and Montgomery counties to solve problems with their transfer plans. Both paired failing schools with nearby better-performing schools, but the new law says parents must have a choice of more than one school.

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