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Indiana Governor Offers Reform Plan

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Gov. Robert D. Orr of Indiana has sent an ambitious package of school reforms to the General Assembly for consideration in its 1985 session.

The 11-point plan, part of the Governor's "Decade of Excellence" effort, is expected to cost $218 million; it would be put into effect over two years.

"It not only ensures that schools will have the resources to meet the day-to-day demands of operating," the Governor said in releasing the proposal this month, "but addresses those issues of accountability so important to continued public support of our efforts in education.''

Included in the initiative are plans to:

Create a $10-million "endowment for educational excellence," a nonprofit corporation that would support endowed chairs at the university level and fellowship grants for teachers and administrators at the precollegiate level.

The fellowships would allow teachers and administrators to participate in special summer and academic-year institutes on college campuses, concentrating on themes designated by the state board of education.

Honor and improve the teaching profession. The efforts include the establishment of pilot career-ladder plans for teachers in three school systems, the creation by June 1987 of a statewide career-ladder plan, higher salaries, and the initiation of various professional-development activities.

Establish summer institutes for gifted and talented students.

Make state-supported "school-discipline specialists" available to school districts.

Governor Orr's package also includes funds for initiatives passed by the legislature this year.

The largest sum, $128 million, is earmarked in his proposal for ex-panding "Project Primetime" to grades 2 and 3. Under the program to date, the state subsidizes some of the costs incurred by school districts that voluntarily reduce student-teacher ratios in the 1st grade to 18 to 1.

Another $16 million would be used to expand a new statewide testing and remediation program from one grade to three. Under the program, the lowest 15 percent of scorers on the test are eligible to participate in state-supported remedial programs.

The size of the state budget for summer-school activities for students needing remedial help would grow from $2.8 million in 1983-84 to $10 million in 1986-87 under Governor Orr's proposal.

Technology initiatives, adult education, programs for gifted and talented students, and a "teacher-shortage assistance fund" to help school systems retrain teachers would also be extended under the Governor's plan.

John R. Sinks, chairman of Indiana's Senate Education Committee said that the legislature is likely to approve the majority of the proposals in the plan.

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