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District News Roundup: Atlanta Schools Lose Sales-Tax Decision

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The Georgia Supreme Court has struck down an Atlanta arrangement that allowed city officials there to pass sales-tax revenues on to schools.

The decision this month ends a 10-year agreement under which the Atlanta public schools were given 30 percent of the proceeds from a city-imposed sales tax. The revenue-sharing deal violated the state's constitutional requirement that schools can only raise money through local property taxes, the court ruled.

The district now will raise property taxes slightly to compensate for the $18 million in sales-tax proceeds it expected to receive this year, said a spokeswoman. Residents should see little change in their tax bills, however, as the City Council is expected to lower its property taxes to adjust for the larger portion of sales-tax revenues it will now receive.

Overhaul Plan for Dayton

A five-year, $430 million proposal to restructure the Dayton, Ohio, public schools would reorganize the district to reduce busing and allow more students to attend school near their homes.

The plan announced this month by Superintendent James A. Williams would divide the 27,000-student district into three zones, each with an assortment of themed magnet schools from which parents could choose. It would also provide money to build several new schools, renovate others, and shrink class sizes in grades K-3 from an average of 25 students to 15.

The proposal was prompted in part by public discontent with a court-ordered desegregation plan put in place 20 years ago that requires children to be bused far from their neighborhoods, a district spokeswoman said.

The district hopes to seek state funding for the plan, but Gov. George V. Voinovich has indicated that he opposes the idea. The first public hearing is scheduled for April 29.

Montana Strike Ends: Teachers in Lame Deer, Mont., have returned to work after walking off the job last month in a contract dispute with the district school board.

Teachers this month accepted a contract that includes a new pay scale and requires them to bear some of the costs of health insurance.

The dispute, which involved 29 of the district's 40 teachers, also focused on whether the district was within state labor law last fall when it unilaterally declared an impasse in negotiations, thus imposing a contract on the teachers.

Fatal Shooting

A 16-year-old high school freshman in Alabama faces a murder charge after allegedly shooting a classmate to death in the parking lot.

Charles Kearley, the superintendent of the 3,500-student Talledega district, said the victim, an 18-year-old senior, was killed by a shotgun blast in the parking lot of Talladega High School as school let out April 11. The two students may have been involved in an argument earlier in the day, Mr. Kearley said.

The suspect has been charged with murder and will be tried as an adult, Talladega Police Chief Mike Hamlin said last week.

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