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It's a (6 to 8) Grand Old Flag

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School officials in Liberal, Kan., think they have found a relatively inexpensive way to pick up an additional $6,000 to $8,000 in state transportation-cost reimbursements.

They are moving the flagpole outside Liberal High School from one side of the building to the other.

Under state regulations, students must live at least 2.5 miles from the front door of the school to qualify for state transportation funds. But the trailer park where some Liberal high-school students live falls 100 feet short of that requirement--if, that is, the building's south entrance is considered the front door.

Since the flagpole has traditionally identified the fronts of schools, officials of the Liberal Unified School District reasoned that moving the pole from the building's south to north entrance--a distance greater than the needed 100 feet--would qualify students from the Gaslight Mobile Home Park for the state funds. And the cost of moving the pole would be around $500.

"The building has identical entrances north and south, and the buses were already unloading on the north side," explained Donald W. Hall, the district's superintendent.

State education officials have responded to the switch with both caution and amusement. Dale Dennis, assistant commissioner of education for finance, admitted that the practice of measuring transportation distances from the home front door to the school front door might sound bureaucratic. But he said the state does try to be consistent.

Auditors are currently studying the Liberal officials' request for funds, he said. "If they meet the criteria, they will be paid; if they don't, they won't."--jw

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