News In Brief

February 23, 1994 3 min read

The Washington State House has passed a bill that would remove supermajority voting requirements for school districts trying to pass special school levies or bond issues.

The House voted 80 to 17 this month to allow local areas to pass bonds or levies on a simple-majority vote. The measure still must be approved by the Senate and by state voters later this year.

The state now requires both that 40 percent of the people casting ballots in the previous general election turn out for levy votes, and that 60 percent of those voting cast ballots in favor of a proposal for it to pass.

Backers of the measure noted that the requirements had narrowly prevented a number of towns from passing levies and bond issues in school elections this month.

‘Character’ Education: The education committee of the Florida Senate has approved a bill to require the teaching of character development in the public schools.

Under the proposed legislation, students would have to be instructed in “the common duties and obligations necessary to insure and promote an orderly, lawful, moral, and civil society.’'

The schools would also have to teach children about “the traditional values of self-restraint, obedience to the law, sobriety, honesty, truthfulness, the work ethic, financial self-support, reverence for the institution of marriage, preference that children be born within a loving marital relationship, chastity, fidelity, the need for children to have positive parental influences, the responsibility of both parents for the upbringing of their children, and respect for authority.’'

School Pesticides: Before spraying pesticides on their campuses, school officials would have to inform parents, under a measure before the Pennsylvania legislature.

The bill, which was approved this month by the House education committee, also would require districts to employ integrated pest management by September 1995. That process replaces spraying with such practices as the installation of sticky boards and the proper handling of food.

Experts are finding that “children are very, very susceptible to the effects of pesticides,’' said Rep. Dan A. Surra, the bill’s sponsor. “I don’t think it’s good public policy to spray pesticides in buildings and then lock our chlidren in them for seven hours a day,’' he said.

Snow Days: The harsh winter has led Ohio lawmakers to move toward revamping the state’s policy for making up snow days.

A plan passed last week by the House education committee would not require schools to make up more than six days, and would set a sliding scale under which any district that had canceled classes for seven or fewer days would not have to make up any time.

Under the bill, districts would not have to count among its days missed any day in which school started or was dismissed within two hours of the originally scheduled time. The bill also would allow schools to work off makeup time by adding an hour onto regularly scheduled days.

Backers said the plan would reduce pressure on superintendents, who might decide not to cancel classes during potentially dangerous weather because of concern about a mounting number of snow days.

Property Taxes: Backers of a South Carolina measure to abolish property taxes as a source of education funding are facing protests from business leaders, who claim the move will place a greater burden on commerce in the state.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill this month that would phase in the property-tax cut over the next four years, but declined to approve local-government spending caps favored by the state chamber of commerce.

Critics of the bill warn that it could lead to local income and sales taxes. But supporters say growth in the economy during the next four years will be enough to replace the $180 million schools would lose in property-tax revenues.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this month.

A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 1994 edition of Education Week as News In Brief