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A superior-court judge in Maine has ruled that the state's school-funding formula is constitutional, despite the claims of a coalition of school districts challenging its fairness.

About 80 districts had argued that statewide reductions in education aid since 1990 had resulted in excessive cuts in poorer school systems, which receive the most state assistance. This situation, they contended, violates equal-protection clauses in the state constitution.

The judge, however, ruled late last month that the school-finance law did not violate the constitution.

State officials had defended the formula, claiming that adjustments to it had reduced state education funding only slightly. The state distributes about $500 million a year in school aid to local areas.

Homeless Education: The Illinois legislature is putting the final touches on a plan that would make the state the first in the country to pass a law guaranteeing an education to homeless youths.

The provision won easy passage in the House and cleared the Senate last month after being added to an unrelated measure as an amendment. That bill has gone back to the House for final approval.

Under the plan, school districts would be required to continue to educate children whose residency was changed when their families moved into a shelter.

Homeless children who live in temporary shelters have sometimes been denied admission to schools as a result of residency questions, or been forced to switch schools in the middle of a school year.

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