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Cuomo Calls for School-Finance Changes

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In his eighth annual State of the State address, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York last week called for a restructuring of the state's school-finance system and proposed a new system of universal health insurance for children in the state.

In addition, Mr. Cuomo proposed eliminating "building tenure" for school principals in New York City; requiring school-board members to participate in state-sponsored training programs; and expanding computer-training programs for teachers.

Mr. Cuomo did not say how he would fund his proposals. He is scheduled to deliver his budget to the state legislature next week.

The Governor's school-finance recommendations, which would shift state monies to districts that have higher school costs, would result in more aid to urban areas, gu4bernatorial aides said.

In his address, the Governor said the state can achieve "greater fairness by accounting for regional differences in the cost of education, and by blending attendance and enrollment in the pupil counts that determine aid."

The revised school-funding process would also include a new formula designed to subsidize districts with large populations of at-risk youths.

The funding proposals were based on recommendations made in September 1988 by the Temporary State Commission on the Distribution of State Aid.

Mr. Cuomo's plan for children's health insurance--coming in the third year of his "Decade of the Child"--would cover uninsured children through the age of 17.

Under the plan, the state would provide medical care to children in families without health insurance. Some families would be required to pay a fee for the services, depending on their income.

The cost of the plan would be borne by the state, federal, and local governments. Some employers and families would also be required to make contributions, according to an aide to the Governor.

Mr. Cuomo also recommended that:

The state "expand further the availability of pre-kindergarten and day care."

State officials "try a new performance-oriented approach to public education," by evaluating schools on student achievement.

"Every school should develop a clearly articulated policy for an alcohol- and drug-free environment."

Mr. Cuomo also suggested that a portion of the nation's so-called "peace dividend," which is expected to accrue from anticipated cuts in defense spending, be spent on education.--mn

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