News In Brief
The amendment, which was approved Nov. 21 by a vote of 424,916 (62 percent) to 260,207 (38 percent) also will prohibit the Governor from cutting education appropriations to balance the state budget without written authorization from two-thirds of the members of both houses of the legislature.
Voters also approved a constitutional amendment that requires the state to adequately finance its retirement system for teachers and other public employees. The vote on the proposal was 551,183 (68 percent) to 262,801 (32 percent).
Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania has called on lawmakers to overhaul the state's local-tax structure and has provided a detailed blueprint to guide their deliberations.
At the Governor's request, the legislature has agreed to focus its at4tention on the tax-reform issue until Dec. 16, when it plans to recess for the Christmas holiday. It is in the middle of a two-year session.
In a speech broadcast by television from his official residence to a joint session of the legislature, the Governor, who is recovering from heart surgery, last month outlined tax changes that would enable municipalities, counties, and school districts to rely less heavily on property taxes for revenue and more on personal-income taxes.
Pennsylvania districts now derive 78 percent of their revenues from property taxes.
In exchange for lower property and "nuisance" taxes, the Governor suggested that districts be permitted to levy an income tax at a rate of up to 1.5 percent.
His plan is designed to be "revenue neutral," said Robert E. Feir, director of policy for the state department of education; Mr. Casey has asked that lawmakers limit the amount of tax revenue that districts could raise during the first three years the new system would be in place.
In the long run, however, the proposed system could provide districts with more money, Mr. Feir added.
"Personal income has been growing more rapidly than the value of real estate," he said. "So over time, this shift would provide the potential for a school district to raise more revenue."
The Alabama legislature violated the state constitution last August when it used $61 million in education aid to finance a variety of non-school-related special projects, a state trial judge has ruled.
The judge ordered the state to return the disputed funds to the Alabama Special Education Trust Fund, which finances both precollegiate and postsecondary education, within 45 days of his Nov. 13 ruling.
State officials have said they will ask the Alabama Supreme Court to review the ruling on the lawsuit, which was filed by Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, and his wife. (See Education Week, Sept. 9, 1987.)
All Kansas public schools and any private schools seeking state accreditation will be required to offer human-sexuality and aids-education classes by next September, under new accreditation rules approved by the state board of education last month.
The rules, which were approved over the objections of some Catholic and fundamentalist-Christian groups, will require schools to offer comprehensive instruction in those areas at both the elementary and secondary levels.
State education officials estimate that about half of all districts currently offer human-sexuality classes.
The new rules also require all public-school districts and private schools seeking accreditation to offer students two consecutive years of a foreign language.
Indiana's Project PrimeTime, which provides additional state aid to districts to lower pupil-teacher ratios in the early grades, has generated "strong negative feelings" because it is not being implemented uniformly from school to school, a study commissioned by the state education department has found.
The program initially provided aid to school systems to lower class sizes to 18 pupils in kindergarten and 1st grade and 20 in grades 2 and 3. But a measure passed by lawmakers in 1985 permitted districts to qualify for PrimeTime funds on the basis of their districtwide pupil-teacher ratios in the affected grades.
As a result, some classrooms have ratios as low as 15 to 1, while others have ratios above 20 to 1, said Joseph DiLaura, a spokesman for the education department.
H. Dean Evans, the state school superintendent, plans to convene a panel of teachers and administrators to evaluate the study and recommend changes to the legislature, Mr. DiLaura said.
Robert E. Bartman has been selected by the Missouri Board of Education to succeed Arthur L. Mallory as the state's commissioner of education.
Mr. Bartman, a former teacher who has been serving as acting commissioner since Mr. Mallory's resignation last July, has been an official in the state education department since 1973.