Published Online: June 17, 1998
Published in Print: June 17, 1998, as Legislative Update

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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final fiscal 1999 budgets for schools and highlights of education-related action during legislative sessions. Budget totals for K-12 education include money for state education administration, but do not include federal, flow-through dollars.

COLORADO

Governor:
Roy Romer (D)

FY 1999 state budget:
$5.03 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$1.93 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$1.82 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
687,000

Highlights:

  • Governor signed bill that links district accreditation to progress on an achievement plan. Districts will enter contracts with state defining standards and goals over six years.
  • Lawmakers also passed bill designed to soften "zero tolerance" policies on weapons in schools after student was expelled for inadvertently bringing a paring knife to school in her lunchbox. Students can now turn in such weapons to teachers and not fear expulsion.
  • Legislature also passed bill requiring teaching of American Indian heritage in schools.

CONNECTICUT

Governor:
John G. Rowland (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$10.98 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$1.68 billion

FY 1998 estimated K-12 budget:
$1.56 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+7.7 percent

Estimated enrollment:
536,100

Highlights:

  • In amending second year of state's biennial budget for fiscal 1999, legislators and governor approved allocating $20 million in new funds for Early Reading Success Program to help at-risk pupils in grades K-3 improve reading skills. Districts may use funds to reduce class size, expand after-school and summer school options, and increase number of children served by all-day kindergarten.
  • Amid complaints that state has not lived up to its promise to narrow gap between rich and poor districts, lawmakers agreed to pump additional $23 million through state's educational-cost-sharing formula, Connecticut's main vehicle for equalizing school funding.
  • To help ease districts' burdens in providing services to students with special needs, state added $18 million to the $28 million it had initially allocated for its special education aid fund for fiscal 1999.

IDAHO

Governor:
Phil Batt (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$1.61 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$796.36 million

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$705 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+12.9 percent

Estimated enrollment:
245,000

Highlights:

  • Legislature proposed amendment to state constitution to authorize state guarantee of school districts' bonds.
  • Idaho will continue its annual $10.4 million technology spending in schools. State contributed same amount in fiscal 1998.
  • Legislature appropriated $400,000 to state board for vocational education for first-year costs of program in which local districts establish professional-technical schools.

KANSAS

Governor:
Bill Graves (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$4.19 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$2.11 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$1.83 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+15.3 percent

Estimated enrollment:
449,500

Highlights:

  • School technology program was provided one-time funding of $10 million from state corporate-income tax.
  • Budget provided $3 million to implement new program for at-risk students.
  • As recommended by Gov. Graves, base state aid per pupil was increased from $3,670 to $3,720.

MARYLAND

Governor:
Parris N. Glendening (D)

FY 1999 state budget:
$8.46 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$2.77 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$2.62 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+5.7 percent

Estimated enrollment:
780,500 students

Highlights:

  • Legislators approved $87 million hike--6 percent increase over current year--to $1.6 billion in basic education aid formula to cover projected enrollment increases.
  • State also approved School Accountability Fund for Excellence designed to improve academic performance for at-risk students. The $62 million SAFE program includes $21 million in grants to districts with a high percentage of low-income students, $15 million to pay for English-as-a-second-language classes, and $12 million for professional development for teachers working in school systems with many poor children. Program also includes $6 million to refurbish aging schools and $4 million to expand number of preschool classes in low-income areas.
  • In addition to K-12 budget increase, Mr. Glendening has pledged to spend $222 million over next five years for school construction, to be funded through bond measures.

OKLAHOMA

Governor:
Frank Keating (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$4.87 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$1.74 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$1.63 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+6.8 percent

Estimated enrollment:
616,000

Highlights:

  • Independent of state's K-12 budget, legislators voted to spend $121.8 million--up from $107.8 million in fiscal 1998--on state's vocational-technical schools, which serve 370,000 secondary school students and adults.
  • Legislature debated, but did not pass, governor's "4 x 4" proposal to require high school students to take four years each of English, mathematics, science, and social studies to graduate.
  • Lawmakers approved $4.2 million to reimburse districts that provide remedial reading instruction to pupils in grades K-3 who read below grade level. That funding level provides $150 per pupil for up to 25 percent of state's students in those grades.
  • Legislature approved $10 million to connect schools to statewide telecommunications network and to help them purchase equipment.

VERMONT

Governor:
Howard Dean (D)

FY 1999 state budget:
$1.14 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$632 million

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$231.96 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+172.5 percent

Estimated enrollment:
103,500

Highlights:

  • Huge growth in budget reflects fact that 1999 is state's first fiscal year to collect statewide property tax for education expenses under Act 60, the controversial law that restructured school finance system.
  • Budget includes new $11 million fund to help districts pay for transportation expenses.
  • In fiscal 1999, state will also make much larger contribution than in past toward education of students with disabilities. In fiscal 1998, state covered about 37 percent of average cost of each disabled student's education; under Act 60, it will be required to contribute 60 percent. State officials are unsure how much the change will cost.

WASHINGTON

Governor:
Gary Locke (D)

FY 1999 state budget:
$9.7 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$4.52 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$4.24 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+6.6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
989,240

Highlights:

  • Figures represent one year of two-year budget. For fiscal 1998-99, total state budget is $19.08 billion. Two-year K-12 budget is $8.87 billion.
  • After heated debate over techniques for teaching reading, lawmakers approved $8 million in fiscal 1999 for Gov. Locke's proposal to create a reading corps of trained teachers and volunteers to tutor young students. Another $9 million in professional-development grants will be spent to improve K-2 teachers' skills in beginning-reading instruction.
  • Charter school proposals failed again, as compromise bill brokered by Mr. Locke lost support at session's 11th hour.

WYOMING

Governor:
Jim Geringer (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$1.36 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$63.17 million

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$62.1 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+1.7 percent

Estimated enrollment:
96,504

Highlights:

  • Budget provided $14.71 million for K-12 education reform focused on two components: student assessment and education technology. Assessment program--which will be launched in 1999-2000 school year--was given $3.45 million; total of $11.26 million was provided for technology.
  • School technology funding is part of five-year, $40 million project that will wire schools for Internet, purchase computers for classrooms, provide staff training, and set up regional technology centers throughout Wyoming.

Vol. 17, Issue 40, Page 28

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