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Sharpen those pencils, WASL testing begins

Washington students in every school will begin tackling the state’s high-stakes test starting today.

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning will be administered to students in grades three through eight and grade 10 through May 5.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, students in grades three through eight will take the reading and math portions of the test.

Students in grades four and seven will also be tested in writing, and those in grades five and eight will take a science exam.

This year’s class of 10th-graders will be the first required to pass three sections – reading, math, and writing – in order to earn a high school diploma.

Scores for 10th-graders will be returned to schools and parents by the end of the school year.

Elementary and middle school students will not learn their scores until the fall.

For more information about the WASL, visit the state’s resource center at www.wasl2006.com.

– Sara Leaming


Low-energy stoplights set for council vote

A small budget windfall for the city of Spokane could be turned into ongoing savings on the city’s electricity bill.

Spokane City Council members tonight are expected to vote on a proposal to spend $270,000 in savings on annual electrical charges to purchase new low-energy lights for traffic signals.

The light-emitting diode signal lights will save up to $45,000 a year in electricity costs.

Red lights already are equipped with LEDs.

The proposal would convert all green lights to LEDs.

The money to buy the low-energy lights came from a rebate from Avista Corp., which had overcharged the city for electricity used to operate traffic signals.

The council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

– Mike Prager

Tax return postmarks due by midnight

Tax procrastinators got a break this year because April 15 fell on a Saturday. But today their time is up.

Federal tax returns must be postmarked before midnight tonight, unless an extension has been requested.

If you’re mailing your taxes after normal post office hours today and you need to buy postage, you’ll have to go to one of four automated postal centers in the region.

The centers are at: 1903 W. Garland Ave. and 6325 N. Monroe St. in Spokane; 11712 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley; and 405 N. Greensferry Road, in Post Falls. They’re open 24 hours a day and offer certified mail and priority mail, but take a credit or debit card. They don’t take cash.

If you’re all set for stamps, you can drop off your return at the U.S. Postal Service’s distribution annex at 2928 S. Spotted Road, in the airport business park.

– Addy Hatch

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