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Reinforcements

Kentucky officials are learning that under their system of handing out rewards or penalties to schools based on test-score trends, most schools are going to go up or down, not progress at a prescribed pace.

The state's most recent scores showed that more schools than expected are likely to split the bonus money the state has set aside for schools that surpass test-result goals.

But now, it turns out, the state is also going to need to hire more master teachers to help turn around schools that are in a slide. The state has money to hire only half of the 99 "distinguished educators" it needs, which led education Commissioner Wilmer S. Cody to write Gov. Paul E. Patton to say another $7.1 million is needed over two years to solve the "serious problem."

The distinguished educators would be dispatched to schools that are classified as "in crisis" or "in decline." These experts would help the teachers at those schools draw up improvement plans and would offer advice on where the schools may be going wrong.

In response to the state chief's request, the governor's office has said only that it believes the distinguished educators are effective and that officials will look for extra money to add 50 more teachers to the state's educational-rescue squad.

A sweet deal

Some officials in Oklahoma are crying foul after a newspaper reported that the secretary of the School Land Commission used an intermediary to buy one of the parcels the group was auctioning last month.

Commission Secretary Rob Johnson is at the center of the dispute after it was reported that he was behind the purchase of 160 acres of trust land in Pawnee County. The purchase was officially made by a Tulsa realtor.

Mr. Johnson has been a chief proponent of selling much of the state's school land rather than leasing it. The commission last month launched a sell-off that will last up to 15 years and has been called the state's biggest land sale since the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889.

The parcel in question is apparently a plum, according to the state auditor, who started asking questions about the land, which is in his home county. Five miles west of Pawnee, it includes a 22-acre lake.

In the end, all of the fuss may be for nothing. The commission recently changed its rules to allow members or employees of the panel to buy state land.

—LONNIE HARP

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