State News Roundup
N.J. Auditors Target Inflated Enrollments
New Jersey education officials, seeking to recover as much as $10 million, are cracking down on school districts they believe inflated enrollment figures to get more state aid.
State officials have begun auditing 25 districts, most of which are in poor urban areas. Two districts, Irvington and Pemberton Township, have agreed to return $1.4 million and $434,000, respectively.
Several districts have challenged the findings of the audits.
Out With the Old
Delaware's school libraries--packed with books containing antiquated information--are getting a long-needed upgrade this year. The legislature boosted funding for library materials and non-personnel expenses by $2.1 million this year, an 11 percent increase over last year's budget of $19.7 million.
"Kids need the most up-to-date information," said Anne Norman, a librarian for the state division of libraries. She said her son recently brought home a book about space published before the 1969 moon landing.
Most books in the state's school libraries are more than 15 years old, according to a recent survey of 154 schools. "These are the same books that were in the library when I went to school," said Ms. Norman, who continues to seek more library funding.
State officials said last week that a three-year, $30 million school-technology appropriation that recently passed the legislature will give the libraries some help. The money will connect schools to information networks and help libraries improve their resources and train personnel.
Some child-care workers in Georgia say the state's new pre-kindergarten program is backfiring.
The program, announced by Gov. Zell Miller this summer, uses lottery money to pay for all-day child care for 43,773 4-year-olds throughout the state on a first-come, first-served basis. So many parents have taken advantage of the offer, however, that slots are now hard to come by, even for parents willing to pay for them out of their own pockets.
Angie Martin, the co-owner of Kiddie Kollege in Marietta, said most of the parents who are using the state-financed program are not the lower-income parents who need it most.
Moreover, she added, child-care centers get less money from the state than they would from parents and are having to scramble for operating funds. Ms. Martin said the state pays her about $96 per week per child, which is about $30 short of what she needs.
The legislature enacted the $157 million program this year.
Expanded Bilingual Education
A group of Hispanic leaders in Nevada plans to submit to the 1997 legislature a plan for more bilingual-education programs.
The idea of proposing more extensive bilingual education surfaced at the Hispanic Unity Summit, held in Reno last month.
Last year, more than 20,000 of the state's 250,000 students were classified as limited English proficient, said Michael De la Torre, who coordinates second-language programs for the state education department.
"I think bilingual education is certainly looked at as an option in this state, but a lot of people just don't understand it," he said.
On the first day of school, students throughout Missouri received a stern warning from their state government: Juveniles who commit a crime may now be tried as adults.
The state's tough new juvenile-crime law requires schools to inform students about the provisions of the law.
"Your juvenile record can follow you forever," a brochure given to students notes. "You risk losing the respect and trust of other people."
The law requires police to fingerprint and photograph juveniles accused of felonies. It also opens juvenile-court proceedings to media and public scrutiny for the first time.
Magnet Escapes Cuts
After nearly becoming a victim of state budget cuts this summer, the Maine School of Science and Mathematics opened Sept. 5 with 135 students.
Located in the town of Limestone, 10 miles south of the Canadian border, it is Maine's only residential magnet school.
Funding for the school had been targeted for elimination early in last year's state legislative session. Spirited lobbying by community members, however, helped persuade lawmakers to restore funding for the school.
The school's dormitories are located at the former Loring Air Force Base.