States News Roundup
Alabama Gov. Forrest H. (Fob) James has signed an out-of-court settlement that will allow the Alabama Public School and College Authority to release bond money to the state's 128 school districts to remove asbestos from school buildings.
The agreement was prompted by a suit filed against the authority and Governor James by Charles Graddick, the state's attorney general. Mr. Graddick filed the suit on Oct. 8 after attending a pta meeting at his child's school and learning that the building had asbestos ceilings. The suit was intended to hasten removal of asbestos from the schools.
The authority has agreed to release the proceeds of a $75 million bond sale first to those school systems that have potentially hazardous asbestos present. The agreement also calls for the schools to use the money allotted them on a per-pupil basis to remove asbestos before any remaining construction dollars will be released to the system.
The settlement calls for all school systems to test their buildings for the presence of asbestos and file a report with the superintendent by Dec. 15. Under the agreement, school districts must remove asbestos from the buildings by the beginning of the 1983-1984 school year.
If the per-pupil allocation is not enough for the system to pay for the removal, school systems will have to pay the remaining costs themselves, Mr. Graddick said.
North Carolina may become one of the first states to test systematically the writing skills of its students under a proposal unanimously approved Nov. 4 by the state board of education.
After hearing the strong endorsement of Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., the board agreed to introduce writing sections into the state's competency and achievement tests for public school students over the next four years, provided the legislature funds the measure.
"To make the writing process a top priority is as essential to education as the flow of blood is to the human body," James Hemby, who chairs the state's competency test commission, told the board.
No change in state law would be required to add the writing tests.
Several states, incuding South Carolina, Florida, New York and Texas, are investigating writing tests and moving in the same direction as North Carolina, Mr. Hemby said.
And in California, writing competency tests are administered by some local school districts.
"But we are at least among the first states," he said in an interview.
The writing test proposal, recommended by the state's annual testing commission and the competency test commission, would cost $577,500 over the next two years. But despite tight economic times, Mr. Hemby said he hoped the legislature would invest in the new tests.
Joining a number of other states with summer schools for talented students, New Jersey will open a Governor's School of Global Studies next summer.
One hundred of the state's top students from public high schools, chosen on the basis of their academic records, will attend an intensive four-week program that will be held on the campus of Monmouth College.
In announcing the creation of the program, Gov. Thomas H. Kean said the $150,000 that it will cost would be met with a combination of state, private, foundation, and college support.
Governor Kean also said he hoped to augment the global-studies program with similar projects in the arts and sciences in the summer of 1984.