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Some 44 Minnesota school districts plan to file a lawsuit charging that the state's school-finance system violates the state constitution's mandate for a "thorough and efficient" education system.

Glenn Matejka, superintendent of the Hutchinson district and spokesman for the Association of Stable and Growing School Districts, said the group believes the current system's heavy reliance on property taxes creates inequities among districts.

Mr. Matejka said the association also will submit a plan to the legislature to eliminate the inequities. Adoption of the proposals, he said, would make the lawsuit moot.

Mr. Matejka said the association wants the state to boost per-pupil spending in its member districts by $400. The group has repeatedly tried and failed to convince lawmakers to address its concerns, he said.

Ohio's school-finance system is "archaic and inequitable" and in dire need of reform, a blue-ribbon panel appointed by Gov. Richard F. Celeste has concluded.

In an interim report to the Governor, the Education 2000 Commission warned that Ohioans will have to make "sacrifices," such as accepting higher taxes, if the state is to become a leader in public education, a spokesman for Mr. Celeste said.

The panel, which includes educators, businessmen, and community leaders, said areas in need of improvement include early-childhood and vocational education. It added that the state should take steps to hold schools more accountable to their communities.

The commission is expected to issue more specific recommendations in its final report to the Governor, due Dec. 1.

Voters in 15 Oregon communities have rejected their local schools' operating levies, thereby forcing the districts into the state "safety net" that prevents them from closing but holds their budgets to last year's levels.

Larry Austin, a spokesman for the state education department, said levies were approved in six districts. The Sept. 20 election left 48 of the state's 304 districts in the safety net.

Last month, a study commission appointed by Gov. Neil Goldschmidt recommended the adoption of a new finance system that would double state support for schools and significantly reduce Oregon's reliance on property taxes for school support.

California's highest court will be asked to decide the constitutionality of a 1986 voter-approved referendum that requires all local governments to seek voter approval for tax increases.

The California Tax Reduction Movement, a citizens' group that supports the referendum, plans to appeal a recent state-court ruling striking it down, according to a spokesman.

In a case brought by the city of Westminster, an appeals court found that the referendum results in "gross interference with the fiscal responsibility of local governments."

Lawyers for the state education department have not assessed the impact of the ruling on school districts, a spokesman said.

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