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California Bills Will Not Revive Bilingual Law

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The California legislature has presented Gov. George Deukmejian with a choice of two bills that would reauthorize some of the education programs that have expired under the state's sunset law in the past two years.

Neither bill, however, would revive the bilingual-education program that expired in the summer of 1987.

The first bill, AB 1783, which was sponsored and supported primarily by Democrats, would extend all six of the other categorical programs that have expired, including special education and the program for gifted and talented students.

Other programs that would be revived by AB 1783 include the Miller-Unruh reading program for the early elementary grades, school-improvement planning grants, economic impact aid, and Indian early-childhood education.

An alternative bill, SB 2059, sponsored by Republican lawmakers, would reauthorize only the state's special-education program, according to state education officials.

Governor Deukmejian has until Oct. 1 to act on the bills. His education adviser could not be reached for comment last week.

The fact that the categorical programs have technically expired does "no damage" to the state's schoolchildren, said Bill Rukeyser, a spokesman for the California education department.

Although the state's power to regulate these programs has ended, he explained, both their intent and their funding remain in law, and they continue to function as they have in the past.

The only other significant education bill passed in the final weeks of the legislative session that ended last week would provide a cost-of-living increase to the state's Regional Occupational Centers/Regional Occupational Programs. The roc/rop's have not received a budget increase in three years, Mr. Rukeyser said.

Contrary to expectations, the legislature failed to act on proposals to amend the state's "developer fee" program, which allows school districts to levy an assessment on new construction projects in order to build or renovate schools.

The state's powerful building industry had lobbied intensively for amendments to restrict districts' ability to collect the special assessment.

In addition, the legislature failed to pass a measure to place a $1-billion bond issue for school construction on the state's June 1990 ballot.

Voters in June approved an $800-million bond issue for school construction, and a similar measure is on the November ballot.

Nevertheless, districts in the state will be able to raise only about $6 billion of the projected $11 billion in school-construction funds that will be needed to meet anticipated growth in student enrollment, Mr. Rukeyser said.

The state's department of finance recently raised from 10 to 11 the number of classrooms that it estimates the state will have to open every day for the next five years to meet projected growth, he added.


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