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News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Va. Governor Seeks To Hire More Teachers

Gov. James S. Gilmore III of Virginia has proposed amending his state's new biennial budget to pay for 1,400 more new teachers.

Mr. Gilmore, a Republican, already has signed a $40 billion fiscal 1999-2000 budget with a $29.1 million commitment to pay for 600 new teachers in the next two school years.

The amended budget plan that he sent to the legislature this month would provide another $27.1 million in the second year of the budget--fiscal 2000--to employ an additional 1,400 new teachers in the 1999-2000 school year, said Lila Young, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gilmore. He has proposed paying for the plan by reducing salary increases for the state's higher education faculty, she added.

In other action this month, Mr. Gilmore vetoed a bill that would have reinstated a state mandate for the teaching of sex education. Ms. Young said the governor believes the decision to teach sex education should be made at the local level.

S.C. Education Official Sentenced in Fraud Case

A former top official in the South Carolina Department of Education was sentenced recently to 21 months in prison and 100 hours of community service for his part in an elaborate test-switching scheme.

Stephon Edwards, formerly a senior executive assistant in the department, was convicted last December of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Mr. Edwards admitted that he had switched high-school-equivalency exams taken by John Brown, an employee of the state comptroller's office, and then-Magistrate Ernest White in an effort to help Mr. White keep his position.

State Superintendent Barbara Stock Nielsen and her husband, Dennis, were called to testify during the sentencing in federal district court in Columbia, S.C.

Mr. Brown is scheduled to be sentenced in two weeks for his conviction on conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

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