News in Brief
Tennessee has adopted a law making unauthorized possession of an electronic paging device by a student clear-cut evidence of drug trafficking.
The measure, which allows police and school officials to search the lockers of students caught with the devices, was signed by Gov. Ned R. McWherter late last month after being passed with little opposition in both the House and the Senate.
A House amendment to the bill limited its scope, however, making it applicable only to students caught with pagers on school property. The Senate bill would have applied to students caught with the devices on property adjacent to a school.
Civil-rights advocates and some legislators have questioned whether the measure would violate students' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. But proponents countered that the law was needed to combat the state's growing drug trade.
Ohio voters approved 105 of 179 school-funding issues on the primary-election ballot last week.
The number of school money requests before the voters on May 2 was the second highest in 10 years, according to a spokesman for the state department of education.
The highest number was in May 1988, when only 47.1 percent of the issues were approved by voters.
Last week's passage rate of 58.7 percent--the fourth highest in the past decade--exceeded the expectations of school officials.
G. Robert Bowers, the state's assistant superintendent for public instruction, said the improved passage rate reflected taxpayers' awareness of the need for more public support for local schools.
"School districts here have done a yeoman's job of communicating their needs," he said.
But, he added, of the 11 school districts with ballot issues that are receiving aid from the state's Emergency School Assistance Fund, only two succeeded in winning voter approval of their requests.
The Illinois Board of Education has certified eight more school districts as being in "financial difficulty," doubling the number that have received the designation in the past year.
The districts cited by the state board last month must develop multi-year financial-recovery plans. The board must approve the plans and will monitor their implementation.
Some district officials have charged that the board is placing systems on the "financial difficulty" list and a less severe "financial watch" list to pressure the legislature to increase funding for education.
The board has approved financial-recovery plans for eight districts previously placed on the financial-difficulty list, including East St. Louis.