News in Brief; A State Capitals Roundup
Mo. Makes Final K.C. Desegregation Payment
Missouri has made its final payment in the settlement of the 21-year-old Kansas City desegregation lawsuit--nearly seven months ahead of schedule.
Officials wired $56 million to the 35,700-student school district on Dec. 3. That marked the last installment on $320 million the state agreed to pay in 1996 to settle its role in the desegregation case. The deadline for the final payment was June 30 of next year.
State involvement will continue, however, until the district demonstrates it has done all it can to raise academic performance of all students and close the test-score gap between black and white students. At that time, the district will regain local control.
Missouri has paid half of the nearly $2 billion in desegregation costs incurred by the district since a court found the state and the district jointly liable in 1984 for maintaining segregated classrooms.
Ill. Districts Seek Guarantee on Construction Funds
Eager to break ground on new schools, three dozen representatives from southern Illinois districts met with state lawmakers this month to try persuading them to hasten the process by which state officials grant construction dollars.
The meeting followed outgoing Republican Gov. Jim Edgar's Dec. 1 announcement of the eight school districts that will receive the $99 million balance of this fiscal year's $350 million state appropriation for school construction. Voters in 54 other districts approved local spending on construction this year, but state officials say those districts must wait until the start of the next fiscal year, in July 1999, to receive state funding.
About a dozen lawmakers are now lobbying to change state law to stipulate that state aid has already been earmarked for the 54 districts. The guarantee is intended to allow the districts to start construction projects before they actually receive state funds. District officials say they could save hundreds of thousands of dollars if they start projects soon.
--Jessica L. Sandham
Vol. 18, Issue 16, Page 20