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Ohio Gov. Sued Over Budget

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The president of the Cincinnati Board of Education has sued Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste, contending that a $190-million cut in state aid to elementary and secondary education for this fiscal year violates the state's constitution and laws.

The cut, imposed by executive order in January, will cost the Cincinnati district about $5 million, or 20 percent of its scheduled state aid, from February through June, according to G. David Schiering, the city's school-board president.

The suit, filed on March 10 in the 10th District Judicial Court of Appeals in Franklin County, where the state capital is located, claims that education holds a "preferred status" under the Ohio constitution and that, accordingly, disproportionately large cuts to the state education budget are impermissible, particularly if they harm some districts more than others. The suit also charges that the Governor lacked statutory authority to alter appropriation patterns previously enacted by the legislature, that he may not cut state aid to localities, and that proceeds from the state lottery and income tax are supposed to be earmarked for elementary and secondary education.

Mr. Schiering, a lawyer, said the case was similar to a 1981 suit in which West Virginia Gov. John D. Rockefeller 4th was barred from making disproportionate cuts in education. Mr. Schiering is seeking class-action status for the suit on behalf of all the state's school-board members, local school officials, and public-school pupils and their parents. No hearing date has been set.

Mr. Schiering said the Cincinnati school board is not formally backing the suit but some board members from that city and elsewhere in the state are encouraging it.

But some districts relatively untouched by thecuts, he said, are opposing the suit. "Many people were operating under the belief that these reductions would be made up in the next biennium," Mr. Schiering said. "That's a position that I don't think will be borne out."--pc

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