State News Roundup
School officials in Maine say they are puzzled over the unusually high number of vacant superintendencies in the state this year and the relatively small number of candidates to fill them.
In all, 29 of Maine's 146 district superintendents have retired or resigned in the past year, more than in any year in recent memory, according to Richard H. Card, deputy commissioner of education. While most of the vacancies were filled over the summer, Mr. Card said last week, four districts have yet to find full-time replacements, and a fifth has received notice that its superintendent will resign Dec. 1 to take a job in Massachusetts.
Moreover, Mr. Card added, state officials are concerned that few people are applying for superintendencies. He noted that when he taught a seminar on educational administration at the state university last year, only one of 18 students indicated an interest in becoming a superintendent.
"People are not sure the job is worth the frustration," he said.
A dispute over funding for a new high school of the arts planned for Minnesota has prompted the school's board to move the site of the facility from Minneapolis to St. Paul, much to the chagrin of Minneapolis backers.
The board last year selected Minneapolis as the site for the school, but the Minneapolis City Council delayed the release of the city's share of the costs--$3 million for the purchase of land--pending a state appropriation of the $26 million needed for construction. Although the legislature appropriated $4 million for design and other preliminary work this year, it failed to provide construction money.
This month, the city council voted to release the $3 million, but stipulated that the state match the funds dollar for dollar and ensure that the city would recoup its contribution, including interest and lost property taxes on any land purchased, if the legislature failed to provide construction money by next July.
Declaring the conditions unacceptable, the board of the arts school then voted unanimously to move the school to St. Paul, which has offered $3 million toward the purchase of a 6-acre site owned by the city.
The school, which would serve 550 students, is expected to open in temporary quarters in 1989.
About 60 percent of the South Carolina students in grades 1-8 who did not meet state standards on reading and mathematics tests last year were promoted anyway, according to a new report.
The state education officials who prepared the report noted that school districts have wide latitude in determining promotion policies. State law requires that student performance on standardized tests count for at least 25 percent of the criteria for promotion. The other criteria are set by the districts.
Nearly 30 percent of the students who took the standardized tests during the 1986-87 school year did not meet state standards.
Mental-health officials in Texas, in an effort to comply with a federal-court order, have adopted an ambitious $200-million plan to upgrade schools for the mentally retarded in the state.
The costly new plan follows a decision calling for comprehensive improvements that was handed down Aug. 13 in Dallas by U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders. Calling the 13 state-run schools for the retarded ''woefully inadequate," the judge held that the state had violated a 13-year-old court order to improve the schools.
The original 1974 order stemmed from a landmark class action brought against the state on behalf of 6,000 students in the schools.
A legislative panel in Minnesota may order a state audit of the Minnesota High School League and its programs, following allegations that the organization has improperly spent money.
The legislative audit commission this month asked its auditor to prepare a proposal for the audit, according to Herman Talle, a lawyer for the league. The league, a quasi-public agency that regulates and sets standards for interscholastic high-school activities, is normally audited by a certified public accountant, he said.
The commission requested the audit proposal following reports in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that league board members and staff spent $4,600 for a Christmas dinner and meeting, $21,600 for a trip to a national convention, and $7,100 for a meeting at a resort.
The commission is expected to act on the audit proposal at a meeting scheduled for Oct. 29, Mr. Talle said.
Florida school districts cannot dismiss otherwise effective teachers who have reached age 70, the state's supreme court has ruled.
In overturning an appeals-court decision, the court ruled this month that the Duval County school board had acted improperly when it dismissed Robert Morrow in 1984, a year after he turned 70. District officials, contending that state law gives school employees no right to employment after age 70, have filed a motion for a rehearing by the court.
Neil W. McArthur Jr., a lawyer for the Duval school board, said last week that because of a new federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, no other employees are likely to be affected by the court's ruling. That law effectively lifted the state's age cap for employees who turned 70 after Jan. 1 of this year, he said.
The Wyoming Association of Secondary School Principals has called on legislators to raise the state's legal drinking age from 19 to 21.
Wyoming is the only state that has not yet raised its drinking age to avoid losing a percentage of federal highway funds under the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed by the Congress in 1984.
In a statement adopted this month, the principals argued that prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to people under age 21 would reduce the number of high-school students who drink.
During both its regular session and a special session earlier this year, the legislature rejected a measure calling for a higher drinking age.