State News Roundup
Ohio Teachers File Suit to Retain Pension Benefits
Responding to cuts in projected benefit payments, a group of former Ohio teachers has filed suit against the State Teachers Retirement System.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court last month, alleges that the retirement-system board violated its contract when it reduced pension benefits for some 15,000 teachers who left teaching before completing 30 years of service.
System officials said that the benefits were subject to change based on investment performance. They said the former, higher rates became too costly to pay to all teachers.
Thanks largely to a state budget surplus, West Virginia public schools collected a windfall $76 million for construction projects in 1995.
The legislature dedicates $22 million annually for renovation and construction of schools. But the state's school-building program also collected half of an unexpected $60 million surplus in the state budget, and lawmakers boosted the program's funding for the year by an additional $24 million.
The funds will go to construction projects in 17 counties, a state education department official said.
The Iowa board of education has passed a proposal to ban school fees for low-income students.
The plan, which will be reviewed in public hearings, would waive some students' fees for textbooks, transportation, driver education, summer school, and school supplies, beginning next year.
Eligibility for waivers would be the same as that for free and reduced-price lunch programs. Some $21.6 million now raised by the fees would drop by $1.9 million.
Districts have not yet decided how to handle fees for extracurricular activities and athletics, according to a spokesman for the state education department. The legislature could study such fees this year.