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State Journal: September song; Enough is enough; Just the dollars

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Colorado lawmakers are looking to a special session next fall following the collapse of efforts to fix the state's shaky education-finance system before the adjournment of the legislature last week.

A variety of factors, including a shift in the school fiscal year and an unanticipated increase in enrollment, are expected to leave the state with a school-funding gap of several hundred million dollars by next year.

A special session became almost unavoidable following the defeat by a House committee of a last-ditch funding plan.

"See you in September," said the sponsor of the ill-fated proposal.

Soon after, Gov. Roy Romer suggested that Colorado leaders spend the summer going to "every community in the state" to ask citizens what they want from education and how much they are willing to pay for it.

"It is not a tour, it's a return to the grassroots," the Governor said.

Gov. Evan Bayh of Indiana, whose state is struggling with its own budget crunch, recently visited a 5th-grade classroom in Indianapolis to tell students about the importance he attached to adequate funding for the schools.

Mr. Bayh had been invited by the class's teacher, Joanna Danner, who shortly before had received a layoff notice from the school system.

The Governor defended his record against Ms. Danner's skeptical questioning and claimed to have provided a $120-million increase for education.

"In all honesty, I think this additional money will be enough," he said. "I really do, Joanna, honestly, I really do."

Gov. Judd Gregg is blaming the nea-New Hampshire for bills moving through the legislature that would drop funding for the state board of education and transfer its rule-making authority to the state's education commissioner.

The Republican Governor charged that the union was behind the move.

"The state school board was pushing imaginative approaches to education, and I guess that's why this whole thing has occurred," he told a state newspaper. "The nea leadership saw that as a threat and is trying to destroy it."

Mr. Gregg said the union feared the board's efforts to hold teachers accountable for student achievement.

"So there's a real attempt to undermine the assessment approach because they just want the dollars and don't want to be held accountable for how they spend the dollars," he said.--hd

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