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Alaska Tenure Rewrite Requires Local Evaluation

Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska has signed into law a bill that revamps the state's tenure system for teachers and administrators.

The measure will require teachers to spend three years in a classroom before becoming eligible for tenure. Teachers now receive tenure after two years.

The law, which the governor approved last month, will subject teachers and administrators to regular reviews using performance standards developed by local school boards but based on general state rules. Districts have until July 1, 1997, to set their standards.

If tenured teachers fail to meet the local standard, they will follow an improvement plan over several months. If, after that help, the teachers are still deemed deficient, they could be fired. The new plan would allow schools to lay off tenured teachers--with rehiring rights--in times of financial crisis.

Critics said the plan was too vague. Mr. Knowles vetoed a tenure-reform bill last year that did not include a substantial evaluation component.

Surge Protector

Relief from a perennial financial squeeze is on its way to growing Oklahoma school districts.

In the past, districts with expanding enrollments have had to wait until nearly the end of a school year for additional per-pupil aid, known as midterm-adjustment payments, if they surpassed the previous year's enrollment. And even then the growth was not fully funded.

Last year, a political battle between Gov. Frank Keating and state legislators held up the funding altogether. (See Education Week, Aug. 2, 1995.)

But under a measure Mr. Keating signed into law on May 22, growing school districts will get $42.8 million.

To pay for the program, the lawmakers took $14.5 million of the total from the state's rainy-day fund.

The law changes the current state-aid formula to help growing districts, and it calls for the creation, by 1998, of an electronic student-census system to ensure timely credit for new enrollments.

"We will never again ask our schools to face a spring funding crisis," Mr. Keating said.

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