News In Brief
S.D. Rewrite Should Stay Simple, Lawmakers Say
At least one South Dakota lawmaker wants to make sure the state's drastic repeal of hundreds of education mandates was not in vain.
The legislature abolished nearly 100 state statutes and more than 500 administrative rules governing K-12 education last spring. The idea was to rewrite only those that were absolutely necessary, giving local governments more control. (See Education Week, May 10, 1995.)
Rep. Larry E. Gabriel, the House majority leader, suggested at a meeting of a special oversight panel this month that the state school board should be restricted in writing new mandates. The board should stop at basics such as teacher certification, school accreditation, and graduation requirements, he said, and local school boards should decide the rest.
But state school board members present at the meeting urged lawmakers to let them do their job. The board intends to reinstate only the most necessary rules, according to Janelle Toman, the director of administrative services for the state education department.
Officials expect that Mr. Gabriel's words will simply stand as a warning. "If anything, he may ask his staff to examine their role," Ms. Toman said.
Georgia's lieutenant governor is taking aim at the spending habits of state school board members. He pledged this month to ask lawmakers to curtail their expense accounts.
Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard pointed to reports of expensive meals and costly hotel rooms charged by the board as evidence of the need to take action. Last year, board members spent over $45,000 on travel and accommodations.
"It's inequitable to hold one set of people to one standard while another set is being held to another standard," said Shanon Mayfield, Mr. Howard's legal adviser. He argued that board members should be held to the same standards as state legislators.
State board members receive no salary but are paid a $59 a day and are reimbursed for lodging and travel costs. State lawmakers must use their daily $59 stipend to pay for their travel expenses.
Bill Gambill, a special assistant to the state board, said last week that several members live far from Atlanta and can't always find discount hotel rates in the state capital when they attend meetings there. He said the board's staff is working on a survey of hotel rates and availability.