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The Utah State Board of Education last week appointed a three-member "fact-finding" committee to weigh the evidence of a charge made in copyrighted news stories that State Superintendent G. Leland Burningham may have improperly kept more than $3,000 in public expense money.

According to Richard Kendell, an associate state superintendent, Mr. Burningham agreed on April 18 to take a paid leave of absence for an indefinite period while the charges are investigated by the board, the state auditor, and the legislature.

The Ogden Standard Examiner on April 15 reported that Mr. Burningham had received "double compensation" from his employers and the federal government for trips he had taken to the Far West Laboratory, one of the regional research units of the National Institute of Education.

According to the report, he owed $1,300 in expense money to the state for trips he had taken in 1983-1984 and $2,000 to the Weber County School District for trips he had taken between 1979 and 1982 while he was superintendent of the district.

Mr. Burningham repaid the expense money only recently when he learned of the Standard Examiner's investigation, the newspaper reported.

At a state-board meeting following the news report, Mr. Kendell said that Mr. Burningham explained his failure to repay the expense money as an oversight.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has adopted new rules that will limit the amount of class time students and teachers can miss due to extracurricular activities.

Association members proposed the new regulations after a statewide survey conducted last fall found that high-school girls and boys involved in golf, tennis, and track and field missed 11 to 19 hours of classroom time per season.

The survey found that students participating in activities such as debate, Future Farmers of America, music, and academic contests missed 6 to 16 class hours a year.

Of particular concern was the finding that educators who coached or supervised extracurriculars missed an average of five class hours per year, according to Kaye B. Pearce, assistant director of the association.

Under the new rules, only two events annually in golf, tennis, cross country, and track and field per year may begin earlier than 3 P.M., which is the time when most classes end, Mr. Pearce said.

The board voted to extend by two weeks the spring season for golf, tennis, track and field, baseball, softball, and soccer to compensate for time lost due to the rule, according to Mr. Pearce.

The new rules also eliminate regional contests for large musical groups, including choirs and bands, prior to annual statewide competitions. They also limit to eight the number of academic contests--such as quiz bowls and mathematics relays--a student can attend each year. Only two of those contests may be conducted during school hours.

The Florida legislature is considering modifying school reforms passed last year that mandated districts to lengthen the school day and to impose stiffer graduation and attendance requirements on students.

The full Senate has approved a bill that would allow school districts to postpone for one year the addition of a seventh period to the school day.

Districts were supposed to have the seventh period in place by next school year. That bill is now being considered by the House education and appropriations committees.

The legislature is also considering changes in school-attendance policies. The Senate has deleted a requirement that students attend class for at least 135 hours per course in order to receive credit. That bill is now being considered by the House, which has already exempted field trips and pep rallies from the attendance rule.

Legislators are also considering reducing the number of credits needed for graduation, including dropping the number of required mathematics and science courses from three each to two each.

Tim Callahan, an aide to Commissioner of Education Ralph D. Turlington, said legislators have proposed the changes because of concerns about costs and about having an adequate supply of teachers to meet the new requirements. They also want to allow districts greater scheduling flexibility, he said.

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