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Gov. Lamar Alexander's intense promotional campaign for his merit-pay plan and other school proposals cost the state of Tennessee $78,900 for the six weeks ending March 31, state records show. Nine full-time state employees were pulled from other jobs and assigned to the statewide effort, and printing costs came to $20,000, the records also show.

The controversial merit-pay plan, if approved, would link higher salaries to proven ability in the classroom rather than to academic credentials. It would also force poor teachers out of the profession by tightening the recertification system, its backers say.

Governor Alexander, a Republican, has said the $210-million proposal is the most important one he will make on any issue during his tenure. The 36,000-member Tennessee Education Association has strongly opposed the plan.

A state legislator has criticized the promotional costs and called for an investigation by the state comptroller's office. The legislator, James Lewis, a Democrat, said there must be "an awful lot of fat" in the budget, if so much could go to promotion.

But a spokesman in the Governor's office said Mr. Alexander felt the money was well spent. "We don't feel at all defensive about it," said John Parrish. "Leadership is seeing that your ideas are being carried out."


The Nebraska Supreme Court last week issued a temporary order preventing two men from going to jail for reopening the Faith Christian School in Louisville, Neb., in defiance of court orders to close it.

The state Supreme Court sched-uled a hearing for last Friday on the parents' application to delay their sentence until an appeal before the court is resolved.

The four parents are appealing the finding of a state-court judge that they are in contempt for reopening the school despite his orders to keep it closed.

The two men were originally sentenced to 15 days in jail each, and a fine was levied against their wives.

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