News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

October 23, 2002 3 min read
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Indiana Union Urges School Aid Increases

Indiana schools need to receive $1,300 more per student than they are getting in order to provide an adequate education, the Indiana State Teachers Association contends.

While schools now receive $5,800 per student each year, they really need $7,140 per student to meet the state’s accountability standards, said Dan L. Clark, the deputy director of the union, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

The figures are based on a study commissioned by the union. The study actually called for a greater increase in per-pupil aid than $1,300, but started with a funding base of $4,400 that didn’t include federal government funding, Mr. Clark explained.

He said his organization hopes that the state and the federal government will make up the difference, or that the federal government will lift some of its requirements contained in the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001—many of which the union worries will not be adequately funded.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Calif. Adjusts Test Scores; Technical Glitch Cited

The California Department of Education recently released corrected information on the statewide results from its high school exit exam.

That new information, however, does not affect the overall proportion of 10th graders who passed both the English and mathematics portions of the test, which was 48 percent of the 459,588 students who took the exam last spring.

But department officials say that about 73 percent of the students actually passed the English language arts portion, rather than the 64 percent reported by the department at the end of September.

They say 53 percent of the students passed the math portion, slightly above the earlier reported 52 percent.

The scores were the first to count toward graduation. Beginning with the class of 2004, students must pass both portions of the test to graduate.

A computer-programming mistake caused the problem, officials said.

The error does not change the outcomes for individuals, schools, districts, or counties, said Scott Hill, California’s chief deputy superintendent for accountability and administration.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

West Virginia Board President Quits Amid Allegations

The president of the West Virginia state board of education has resigned from the board amid federal charges that he embezzled $172,000 from the bank he used to run.

J.D. Morris, the former president of the Clay County Bank, submitted his letter of resignation on Oct. 11. His departure creates the third empty seat on the 11- member board.

Last week, the state board named lawyer Howard Persinger, a Mingo County resident, as its president. He has been on the board since 2000.

Meanwhile, Mr. Morris is attempting to work out a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and has paid back all of the money in question, according to his lawyer, Wayne King.

“He didn’t want the spotlight to be on his personal life,” Mr. King said. “Or to involve the education system in West Virginia.”

State school officials said they were shocked at the resignation.

“It is truly a surprise to the department itself,” said Liza Cordeiro, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Education. “He had just been elected to his second term as president. [The state superintendent] had looked forward to working with him in his second presidency.”

The charges against Mr. Morris cover a period that dates to January 1997 through last April, when he retired as the bank’s president.

Then-Gov. Cecil Underwood appointed Mr. Morris to the board in 1998. He was first elected president in 2000 and was re-elected in July to a term that was set to expire in November 2006.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Illinois School Board Approves Fiscal Takeover

The Illinois state board of education decided last week to form a financial-oversight panel to provide emergency assistance to the cash-strapped Hazel Crest School District 1521/2 in suburban Chicago.

The decision did not come as a surprise.

On Oct. 7, the school board that runs the 1,200-student elementary school district voted to ask the state board to assume financial decisionmaking for the district.

The district was set to run out of money before the end of the year if the state did not assume control, according to documents presented by the district to the state board.

As a result of the Oct. 17 decision, the state board will be able to grant the beleaguered district up to $270,000 in emergency funding and a loan of up to $1.08 million.

While these measures should be enough to keep the district operating until the end of the school year, it is unclear whether the district will be financially able to open next fall.

—Michelle Galley


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