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Energy prices drain school funds

Sacramento, Calif. - At a time when most public schools are talking about improving teachers, books, and technology, school officials in California are facing another kind of budgetary challenge: soaring utility bills.

Districts will likely need an extra $200 million this school year to cover energy costs, according to the California Association of School Business Officials, which surveyed 225 of California's 1,100 districts. Forty percent of the districts predict that utility bills will deplete their reserves this year, which could lead to spending cuts in the classroom next year, according to the association.

Finger scans speed up lunch lines

Penn Valley, Pa. - Students in three school districts are leaving ID cards and loose change at home and paying for their lunch Aldous Huxley-style: with their fingerprints. The technology, known as biometrics, is based on a small scanner that plots ridges on a person's index finger as numbers on a grid and then deletes the fingerprint image.

Welsh Valley Middle School, in a Philadelphia suburb, piloted the program in the fall to deal with long lunch lines. Only a few of its 700 students have not participated. Critics of biometrics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, see it as a threat to privacy rights.

Dr. Seuss classic 'Cattus Petasatus'

Lexington, Ky. - Anyone who wants to learn Latin should read a little Virgil, some Ovid, and, of course, Dr. Seuss. Why not? Jennifer and Terence Tunberg, language experts at the University of Kentucky, have translated the Seuss classic "The Cat in the Hat" into Latin, hoping to change the language's stuffy image among students.

"Cattus Petasatus," which retains original Seuss drawings, is not the Tunbergs' first Seuss project. In 1998, they released a Latin translation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which sold 32,000 copies.

The number of high school students studying Latin increased 40 percent between 1976 and 1994, according to the American Classical League.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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