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Published in Print: August 5, 1998, as Legislative Update

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.

DELAWARE

Governor:
Thomas R. Carper (D)

FY 1999 state budget:
$1.89 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$637.51 million

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$609.62 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+4.6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
112,688

Highlights:

  • Spending includes $6.5 million in aid for districts to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 in core aca-demic areas. Funding would provide for ratio of one teacher for every 17.4 regular education students.
  • Budget offers one-time injection of $40.5 million to supplement capital funding for school projects, in addition to regular $61.5 million fiscal 1999 allotment for K-12 education construction;
  • Provides $4.0 million for final phase of wiring all schools for technology, a long-time priority of Gov. Carper's.

LOUISIANA

Governor:
Mike Foster (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$5.8 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$2.19 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$2.09 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+4.8 percent

Estimated enrollment:
761,616

Highlights:

  • Overall budget figure represents general fund dollars only. Figure for K-12 spending represents general fund, plus lottery proceeds.
  • State's minimum-foundation funding for schools includes $72.9 million for teacher pay raises in fiscal 1999. Salary increases for full-time teachers will range from $800 to $1,500, for state average of $1,106, or 3.7 percent.
  • New law increases required instructional time for minimum school day from 330 minutes to 360 minutes, and specifies that minimum school year consist of no fewer than 175 days of instruction. Requires elementary schools to dedicate any increased instructional time--beyond that offered during 1997-98 school year--to core subjects, with focus on mathematics, reading, or language arts in lower grades.
  • Lawmakers required school boards to select teachers from recommendations made by superintendent, and struck language allowing boards to hire teachers without superintendent's endorsement.
  • Legislators directed state board to adopt uniform procedures for local school districts to use for high school graduation ceremonies. Districts are to provide recognition for students who completed minimum units of credit for graduation and all other graduation requirements, but who failed state's high school exit exam.

MISSISSIPPI

Governor:

Gov. Kirk Fordice

Kirk Fordice (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$3.2 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$1.4 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$1.37 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+2.2 percent

Estimated enrollment:
503,967

Highlights:

  • Lawmakers passed Critical Teacher Shortage Act, providing scholarships, housing loans, and moving expenses for teachers willing to work in areas of state where teacher shortages exist.
  • Legislature passed law designed to ensure that all children are proficient readers by end of 3rd grade and that older students are reading at or above grade level. Law calls for development of state reading plan, and gives districts flexibility to offer after-school and summer reading programs and to increase instructional time devoted to reading.

NEW JERSEY

Governor:
Christine Todd Whitman (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$18.12 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$5.97 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$5.36 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+11.3 percent

Estimated enrollment:
1.2 million

Highlights:

  • Budget approved by lawmakers and governor increases state aid to districts by $602 million, including state payments for employee pension and Social Security costs.
  • Funding plan includes $279 million in aid to lift spending in 28 poor, urban districts to level of state's wealthiest systems, as required by court order stemming from finance-equity lawsuit. That funding is up from $219 million in fiscal 1998.
  • New law requires all school employees to pass criminal-background screenings before starting work, except in situations that state deems emergencies. Previously, districts could bring on new hires pending completion of those checks. Measure also broadens list of disqualifying offenses to include crimes such as child neglect, stalking, and weapons offenses.
  • Another newly enacted law aims to speed adjudication of teacher-tenure cases. Among other provisions, act sets deadlines for various stages in process.

NEW YORK

Governor:
George E. Pataki (R)

FY 1999 state budget:
$36.8 billion

FY 1999 K-12 budget:
$11.8 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$10.95 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+7.7 percent

Estimated enrollment:
2.8 million

Highlights:

  • Final budget boosts state aid to local districts by $847 million, up from $518 million increase Gov. Pataki proposed in January. Increase is largest in state history.
  • Mr. Pataki vetoed proposed $500 million bonding program for school repairs and construction that had been centerpiece of legislature's budget. State aid for building and maintenance still rose 19.1 percent, to $923 million.
  • In another election-year veto, governor axed $77.5 million that lawmakers had authorized for teacher salaries in state's "Big Five" urban districts.
  • For second consecutive year, lawmakers failed to act on proposal by governor to authorize charter schools. Efforts by New York City Schools Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew to win funding authorization for longer school year and to eliminate tenure for principals also went nowhere.

Vol. 17, Issue 43, Page 24

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