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A fair fight

A South Dakota lawmaker plans a fight to stop children from returning to school before Labor Day.

Rep. Ron J. Volesky said this month that he will introduce a bill next year that would prohibit schools from opening before Labor Day.

In addition to hampering tourism, school calendars that include an August opening drive down attendance at the state fair--a situation that peeves the Democrat.

"Some schools start their school year before Labor Day and create a situation where 4-H Club children and other students who want to work at the fair have to be excused from class," Mr. Volesky said. "Then, they are at a disadvantage later on having to catch up with school work."

South Dakota legislators passed a law in 1993 that gave schools the option of starting in August. That measure reversed statewide balloting in 1984, in which voters approved a law moving the start of school to after the first Monday in September.

Land dispute

Colorado voters will be told that a plan to alter the state board that controls school-trust lands could cause a $25 million headache for schools, despite Gov. Roy Romer's assertion that the plan would not be so costly.

The state's November ballot will include a constitutional amendment that would revamp the board, now run by three full-time commissioners. The amendment would create five part-time slots.

But it would also redefine the state's Permanent School Fund, which benefits from the sale of trust lands. Interest from the permanent fund helps pay for school operations. Under the amendment, the principal in the fund could be tapped for school loans or used to buy bonds. The amendment would also require the land board to set aside 10 percent of the 3 million acres it manages as parks or preserves.

Lawmakers who publish a voters' guide explaining ballot questions suggested that the changes could force the state to come up with $25 million in new school funds. Gov. Romer argued that the estimate was too high.

The 18 lawmakers on the panel that publishes the guides disagreed, however, making a change in trust lands an expensive proposition.

--CHERYL GAMBLE & LONNIE HARP

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