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School systems improve on test

All school systems scored higher this year on the Maryland School Assessment, a state test designed to force schools to meet stiff federal standards. Despite the second consecutive year of gains, hundreds of schools will learn soon whether they've been labeled as failing and could face sanctions because they are not improving fast enough.

Violent crime up in Baltimore

Violent crime in Baltimore increased last year for the first time since 1999, according to FBI statistics that surprised even the police commissioner. The 4 percent increase over 2003 left city officials scrambling to explain it and opens the door for opponents to criticize the mayor, said politicians and political scientists.

MTA plans bus route changes

The Maryland Transit Administration is proposing discontinuation of almost a dozen bus lines and expansion of others in the most comprehensive route restructuring in at least 30 years.

Fort Meade plans for growth

Preparing for growth around Fort Meade that could come with military base reorganization, officials announced details of a three-decade master plan that includes extending the Washington Metro's Green Line from Greenbelt to the Army post and points north - possibly to Baltimore.

Beilenson to leave city health post

Baltimore's health commissioner announced that he is resigning to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin. Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, city health chief for more than a decade, said he is leaving to begin campaigning without running afoul of the Hatch Act.

City schools funds threatened

Maryland's Court of Appeals undermined a Baltimore judge's latest effort to force the state to provide millions of dollars in extra funding for the city schools. The court also reversed a ruling that would have given the Baltimore school system more time to eliminate its budget deficit.

Trial in killing of children delayed

The trial of two Mexican immigrants accused of slashing the throats of three children was delayed until July after a defense attorney said he was taking medication that was causing him to nod off. The delay came as jury selection was to begin.

Ex-McCormick site to be sold

A Philadelphia-based developer of mixed-use projects is buying one of the last undeveloped parcels in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, considered among the city's premier development sites. ARC Wheeler Group has signed a contract to purchase the nearly 2 acres on Light Street where a McCormick & Co. spice plant once stood.

Night-scope test ordered halted

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ordered the state police not to repeat its experiment with using night-vision scopes to catch violators of the state's seat belt law. In Rockville, police borrowed night-vision scopes from the military for a trial enforcement run during which troopers issued 111 citations for seat belt violations.

Group-home executive resigns

Joseph Skariah, who expensed Caribbean cruises, luxury SUVs and the settlement of a sexual harassment complaint while making a salary of more than $135,000, has given up positions running the tax-exempt group-home company he founded and serving on its board of directors.

City to join in mercury challenge

Mayor Martin O'Malley said Baltimore will join a dozen states challenging the Bush administration's decision to exempt power plants from tough federal controls on mercury pollution.

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