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News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Kansas Lowers Dropout Age

Republican Gov. Bill Graves of Kansas has approved a bill that allows students to drop out of high school at ages 16 and 17 with their parents' permission--but only if both the parents and students sign a disclaimer indicating how it will harm the teenagers' future job prospects.

SB 38, which was signed into law this month, enables parents to enroll their youngsters in an alternative education program.

But they can also withdraw students from school entirely, provided the parents and children attend a final counseling session conducted by the school and sign a disclaimer. The disclaimer must include information "regarding the academic skills the child has not achieved, and the difference in future earning power between a high school graduate and a high school dropout."

Just last year, lawmakers extended the compulsory-school-attendance law to age 18 to fight juvenile crime and delinquency.

Funding Veto Likely in Minn.

Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson has vowed to veto the $6.7 billion school funding bill passed last week by his state's Democrat-controlled legislature.

The Republican governor was scheduled to meet with legislative leaders this week to discuss his plans to call a special legislative session on school spending and, possibly, other topics, as well.

The main sticking point is the bill's exclusion of a proposal by Gov. Carlson to provide $6 million in tax credits for low-income families with students in private schools.

The governor believes the bill does not contain enough support for low-income students who are failing in the public school system, said his press secretary, Brian Dietz. The Democrats remain firmly opposed to using public money to help private schools.

Though the two sides remain at odds, the governor has said he does not want to call a special session until he has reached an agreement with the legislators.

The $6.7 billion plan would raise school spending by $7 million over the current year's budget.

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