News In Brief
The Colorado legislature has given final approval to a new school-finance formula that scraps a six-year-old system based on the use of geographic categories of districts.
Educators in the state said they became disenchanted with the 1988 school-finance law because its placement of districts in categories sometimes did not make sense. Moreover, they argued, it did not go far enough in eliminating funding inequities. (See Education Week, Feb. 16, 1994.)
The new formula is based on more traditional criteria--district enrollment, with adjustments for the local cost of living and thenumber of at-risk students.
After much debate in recent weeks, the legislature gave its final approval to the new formula this month. The bill includes base funding of $3,390 per pupil, with the figure rising according to the cost-of-living and at-risk-pupil factors.
Year-Round Schools: Lifting state restrictions that mandate summer vacations, the Maryland legislature has approved a bill to allow school districts to convert to a year-round class schedule, provided that students complete 180 days of school each year.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who championed the measure as part of a package of legislation in his last year in office, has said he will sign the bill next month.
Under a model endorsed by the state education department, four groups of students would alternate attending school for nine weeks, with a three-week break between sessions.
Six districts have received state grants to develop year-round plans, which supporters say will reduce overcrowding and lower construction costs.
Parental Notification: Gov. George F. Allen of Virginia has rejected a compromise parental-notification bill that requires a physician to inform an adult relative before a teenager receives an abortion.
Favoring stricter requirements, Governor Allen this month returned the measure to the legislature, asked lawmakers to reconsider an earlier version of the bill that would allow doctors to contact parents and legal guardians only, but not grandparents or siblings over 21, as the existing bill does.
The bill also exempts 17-year-olds from the notification requirement. Mr. Allen, who was elected last year with the support of many anti-abortion groups, wants to apply the notification requirement to all girls under the age of 18.
Holocaust Education: Schools in Florida and New Jersey will be required to teach students about the Holocaust, under legislation passed in both states.
Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey has signed the legislation, while Gov. Lawton Chiles was expected to sign the Florida bill.
New Jersey and Florida join California and Illinois in mandating Holocaust education or some form of it. (See Education Week, March 30, 1994.)
At one point, the Florida Holocaust measure looked as if it might be stymied when backers of school-prayer legislation considered tacking it on to the Holocaust bill.
But both measures were moved separately. Action on the prayer bill was pending last week.
Charter Schools: The Kansas legislature has passed a bill authorizing the creation of 15 charter schools statewide.
Also approved by lawmakers this month was a bill to allow school districts to expel troublesome students for an entire academic year and to refuse to enroll students who have been expelled from other districts.
A third measure passed makes it easier for districts to obtain exceptions from a law that requires them to offer free breakfasts to poor children.