State News Roundup
Four education organizations in Arizona, which have clashed often about issues ranging from teacher salaries to academic standards, have formed an organization to dispell what they see as the "shaky image" of public education.
The Arizona Forum for Public Education will meet in "non-adversary" settings to develop positions and lobby the public and the state governmment, said Joannne Hilde, president of the Arizona Congress of Parents and Teachers.
Only positions acceptable to all members will be pressed in public, said Ms. Hilde.
The Arizona Education Association, the Arizona School Administrators Inc., and the Arizona School Boards Association joined the Congress in forming the new organization, which agreed to oppose tuition tax credits in its first monthly meeting last month.
Ten Kentucky school districts will begin participating in the state education department's new school-improvement program this year.
The plan, approved by the state board of education last month, has been more popular with school systems than had been expected, according to department officials. All of the 25 school districts invited to participate expressed interest in do-ing so. Because of staff limitations, however, only the first 10 to apply will be able to take part in the program.
It will be divided into two phases. The first calls for a detailed analysis of the programs offered by each district. That analysis will include factors such as the link between elementary-school mathematics and high-school mathematics, students' "time on task,"incentives for learning, and school boards' goals and objectives for the district.
In the second phase of the plan, the education department will provide technical assistance to teachers, administrators and school boards. Both parts of the plan will focus on areas where improvements can be made without spending additional money.
The districts invited to participate were chosen on the basis of test scores, per-pupil expenditures, student-teacher ratios, faculties' educational levels, and other factors.
The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that teachers' unions may sue nonunion teachers to force them to pay "service fees" in lieu of dues.
The justices interpreted the state's 1975 Educational Employment Relations Act to say that disricts and unions were free to negotiate contracts to enforce the payment of fees by something less than the threat of dismissal.
The law permits unions and school districts to bargain for "agency shops," in which teachers must either join the union and pay dues, or pay the union service fees as a substitute.
The law says persons not paying the agency fee can be dismissed. But requiring dismissal was considered "too drastic" a measure by the court.
The opinion states: "The employee who does not wish to join the union ... should have the choice of paying the fee, facing civil suit, or terminating his or her employment."
The case began as a small claims court dispute between the San Lorenzo Education Association and a group of teachers who declined to pay the $185 in annual service fees required by a contract signed between the association and the local district in 1977.
Last December, the state court of appeals ruled that the act required dismissals, not lawsuits, as the remedy for failure to pay the fees.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in three separate cases that such fees are constitutionally acceptable.
For the eighth time in as many years, the New York Board of Re-gents has recommended that the state end operating aid to its wealthiest school systems and give more money to its poorest ones. (See Education Week, Dec. 7, 1981.)
The state legislature, which must approve the plan, has rejected similar proposals every year since 1974.
Under the regents' proposed aid formula, the state in 1983-84 would add $358.9 million to this year's $4.56 billion school-aid budget.
However, 105 of the state's 707 school systems would lose all their state aid under the regents' proposal by eliminating the state's so-called "flat-grant" and "save-harmless" provisions.
Indiana Gov. Robert D. Orr last week proposed spending changes and tax increases in order to offset a projected budget deficit of $450 million for the 1983 fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
Governor Orr's major proposal for education, as outlined last Monday to a joint special session of the legislature, involves delaying state-aid payments to school districts. Indiana districts, called school corporations, receive about 60 percent of their operating income from the state, on average.
"We now distribute on a monthly basis at the beginning of each month," explained Paul W. Krohne, associate state superintendent for intergovernmental relations. "We send about $84 million per month to the 304 school corporations. This would be a gradual delay the Governor is proposing, so the June distribution would be delayed until July."
In addition to effecting savings through such accounting methods, Governor Orr proposed raising the state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent and the state income tax from 1.9 percent to 3 percent. Combined, the Governor said, the measures would offset the deficit and permit the state to initiate some new programs.
Mr. Krohne said "no one is seriously considering" cutting enough from the budget to offset the projected deficit.
The legislature is expected to act upon the Governor's proposal within the next few weeks, so that the new tax collections can begin on Jan. 1.
Education programs in Kansas will be cut $18.5 million by Jan. 1 and more if the state does not speed up its collection of taxes and fees, Gov. John Carlin announced last month.
Governor Carlin told state agencies to cut their discretionary budgets by 4 percent to close a projected $61 million deficit in the state's $3 billion budget. Additional cuts of 3.3 percent will be imposed if the state does not collect taxes faster, Mr. Carlin warned.
Among the education programs affected are general state aid, the school-food program, and special education. Transportation and adult basic-education programs will be left alone.
The cuts represent 3.2 percent of the total state education budget of $588 million.
Although agencies can appeal the governor's cuts, a spokesman for the Department of Education said that because the cuts were evenly distributed there would be "very few if any appeals."
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